Upskilling Virginia’s Early Learning Workforce

The Virginia Early Childhood Foundation recognizes the profound influence of early childhood educators in building the brains of Virginia’s next generation. We are committed to elevating awareness of the early education profession and supporting their skill building through access to competency-building coursework and credentials. Focus on this important work began in 2015 and progress continues today through various state and national initiatives.

A remarkable set of key stakeholders convened for an initial discussion in July 2015 to recognize the importance of this workforce; understand national trends, concerns, and opportunities; learn about the barriers and challenges with the existing PD pathway in Virginia; and begin to map out a more cohesive professional development pathway for this important workforce. For more details, see the group's working paper. This initial Upskilling discussion co-hosted by VECF and the Virginia Chamber of Commerce resulted in the following:

National Academy of Medicine Initiative (NAM): Thanks to a grant from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, a team of Virginia stakeholders, led by VECF, participated in a 5-state initiative to create state-specific plans for early education workforce development. The work of this team of experts resulted in recommendations and final report. Learn more about how Virginia is improving its education pathways to support the upskilling of its early education workforce in this discussion paper written by Virginia’s team for NAM’s Perspectives in June 2017.

School Readiness Committee: The School Readiness Committee was created by the 2016 General Assembly via HB 46. In recognition of the fact that one of the most important factors in learning outcomes for young children is the capabilities of the adults who support their growth and learning, the first goal of the Committee is to address the development and alignment of an effective professional development and credentialing system for the early childhood education workforce in the Commonwealth. VECF is pleased to provide for the facilitation of the committee and to serve as a member of the steering committee.

Project Pathfinders: In partnership with the Virginia Community College System, VECF will administer a scholarship program, Project Pathfinders, designed to increase the skills of early childhood professionals in preschool and child care settings by accessing community college coursework and credentials. VECF is also piloting an effort to combine Project Pathfinders with the Registered Apprenticeship program administered by the Virginia Department of Labor & Industry.