“It takes a village to educate our children.” And we are the village. That was the message brought to the ACCA Child Development Center in Annandale by Governor and Mrs. Ralph Northam on Tuesday, when they announced that the Governor’s biennial budget will contain nearly $100 million designated for early childhood education for three and four-year-old in Virginia.
Mrs. Northam talked about the “ACCA magic” imparted by the child care program that began as a volunteer program in the late 1960s. Founders Emily and Fred Ruffing determined that quality child care was a significant barrier to women joining the workforce, and encouraged many faith communities to join together to start the non-profit that now is ACCA, the Annandale Christian Community for Action. Part of that “magic” was demonstrated by a gaggle of four-year-old students who performed a “Thank You” song in multiple languages, and remained on the stage as a backdrop to the Governor’s announcement.
Virginia ranks number one for business, but is in the bottom third of states for early childhood education. Forty percent of children in the Commonwealth enter kindergarten without the math, reading, and social skills needed to succeed, and need to be trained for tomorrow’s workforce, starting as early as possible. Governor Northam’s plan will provide helpful tools, rather than just rules, and marks the largest investment in the care and education of children in the Commonwealth’s history.
Scanning the youngsters sitting behind him, the Governor noted that they represent our society’s diversity and inclusion, and that there is power in every one of those children. His plan would ensure that every at-risk three and four-year old has access to high quality early childhood care and education. His budget proposal includes $26 million for a pilot program for the Virginia pre-school initiative, $59.5 million in new investments, and would move the early childhood education subsidies from the Department of Social Services to the Department of Education where, he said the program belongs. His overall budget plan will provide and additional $94.8 million for educational investment and associated policy improvements. The Governor concluded by saying that every child deserves access to a “smart start,” and that his goal is to see Virginia emerge as a national leader in educating our littlest learners. Based on the excitement in the room on Tuesday, the Governor has a lot of support to make that happen!
The 24th annual Mason District Holiday Town Gathering will be held tonight, Dec. 12, at 7 p.m. This annual event at the Mason District Governmental Center, 6507 Columbia Pike in Annandale, features live musical entertainment by local talent, refreshments, door prizes, and a look back at some local events in 2019 during my State of Mason District Report. The Holiday Town Gathering is open to all residents, including children, and I look forward to seeing you there.
The Inauguration Ceremony for Board of Supervisors, Constitutional Officers, and Northern Virginia Soil and Water Conservation District Directors will be held on Monday, Dec. 16, at 6 p.m., at the Fairfax County Government Center Forum, 12000 Government Center Parkway in Fairfax. Fairfax County Circuit Court Judge Penney S. Azcarate will administer the oath of office to the elected officials, whose terms of office begin Jan. 1, 2020. The inauguration ceremony is open to the public. For more information, or to request reasonable ADA accommodations, call the Office of Public Affairs at 703-324-3187.