Looking Ahead: Planning for the next decade

Virginia’s School Readiness Report Card provides an opportunity to celebrate the fact that in general in almost every regard, children in Virginia are faring better now than they were ten years ago. This significant success is the result of many combined and collaborative efforts in Virginia. We have strong networks of support for school readiness, programs with evidence of effectiveness, and viable data to substantiate and inform this work.

A more granular look at the data, however, makes it clear that some groups of children are not faring as well, and that poverty is at the root of these disparities.

The numbers signal the reality that groups of children who are poor and children of color are not represented as well in the successes and are not thriving on pace with other children.

Rather than rest on laurels that much of the population is faring well, we must redouble our efforts and target resources to populations growing in number yet struggling with conditions and performance. The fact that even with disparities, the trend in most indicators for all populations of young children in Virginia are improving gives us confidence that our interventions are working, but must work better. To ensure that every child in Virginia has similar opportunities for upward mobility, we need to strategically adapt and innovate Virginia’s systems of support to meet the challenge of overcoming the disparities. This proposition is not simple. “Business as usual” won’t solve these thorny problems.

Forging into the second decade of our work, VECF is committed to zeroing in on the gaps and seeking opportunities for families and children who are not fully experiencing Virginia’s successes. Ensuring that all children have a strong start is a complex challenge and requires complex solutions. We must uncover the levers that can provide a broad economic lift across populations and ensure that young people growing up in Virginia can access opportunities and contribute to Virginia’s future prosperity. We look forward to working with our public and private sector partners to bring “next generation” models and strategies as we strive to

As we offer this report and analysis to the Commonwealth, we are struck by how data so often prompt questions more than answer them. But continuing to probe and question is our privilege, responsibility, and commitment.

VECF believes in the potential of introducing and testing private-sector strategies and entrepreneurial approaches to Virginia’s system of services for children and families to confront the status quo and adapt nimbly to new opportunities. It is our hope that this report can bring sharper vision, ambition, and readiness for change as Virginia’s leaders work to provide a clear path and upward trajectory for all young children in Virginia.

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