For the past 18 months, the Commonwealth of Virginia has been striving to comprehend and tackle the issues related to enhancing educational opportunities for early childhood educators. Through strategic collaboration between key stakeholders, progress has been made and changes are taking place. This paper will discuss the contexts and structures that have influenced these changes, as well as some initial results. It is essential to recognize the role of the NAM i2i program and the participation of the Inspired State team in bringing Virginia to this point of tactical readiness. Kathy Glazer, President of the Virginia Foundation for Early Childhood and former Director of the Virginia team for the Innovation and Incubation Project at the National Academy of Medicine, responded to the obstacles that higher education poses for early childhood educators in the state.
The Virginia team decided to focus on recommendation 5 of Transforming the Workforce for Children from Birth to Age 8, which deals with the development and improvement of higher education programs for education and care professionals. As a result, representatives from the educator preparation community unanimously agreed that a review of the education and training model and structure in Virginia would be an opportunistic approach to this work. The document highlighted numerous barriers that exist in Virginia to accessing initial college education and professional development pathways for early childhood workers. In response to these challenges, Virginia leaders championed the launch of the Upskilling initiative, a powerful catalyst to lay the foundation for a coordinated set of initiatives in Virginia aimed at ensuring that all early childhood teachers in the Commonwealth are prepared to support the development and learning of young children. Part of the reason access is so difficult in Virginia is that there is no efficient way to advance higher education pathways. To address this issue, a Pathways Subcommittee was created as a direct continuation of the efforts of the Non-Aligned Movement team.
This Subcommittee is chaired by two participants from the Non-Aligned Movement team and works to create a smooth path for educators in Virginia. Considering existing research and a deep understanding of the challenges associated with early childhood practice, the Virginia team decided to focus on improving career and educational trajectories to support the improvement of skills of early childhood workers across the Commonwealth. Soon after, a high-level stakeholder meeting was organized in Richmond by The Virginia Early Childhood Foundation (VECF) and The Virginia Chamber of Commerce. The first objective of this Committee was to address the development and alignment of an effective system of professional development and accreditation for early childhood education personnel in Virginia. In addition to identifying specific assets and barriers, The Virginia team created a set of guiding principles for developing a career path in this field. Through relationships of collaboration and trust that fostered authentic dialogue, thoughtful recommendations were made.
The Upskilling initiative has been successful in providing access to childcare services in Northern Virginia, allowing more than 200,000 children in Florida, nearly 130,000 in Illinois, 250,000 in New York, and more than 300,000 in Texas access to childcare services. Holly Coy is Undersecretary of Education in Governor Terry McAuliffe's Office in The State of Virginia. She has been instrumental in leading this effort towards providing access to childcare services in Northern Virginia. Through her leadership and dedication, she has been able to make significant progress towards improving educational opportunities for early childhood educators. The Upskilling initiative has been successful in providing access to childcare services in Northern Virginia by removing barriers that previously existed. This has allowed more than 200,000 children in Florida, nearly 130,000 in Illinois, 250,000 in New York, and more than 300,000 in Texas access to childcare services.
This initiative has also provided an efficient way for educators to advance their higher education pathways through creating a Pathways Subcommittee chaired by two participants from the Non-Aligned Movement team. The success of this initiative is due largely to Kathy Glazer's leadership as President of The Virginia Foundation for Early Childhood and Holly Coy's dedication as Undersecretary of Education in Governor Terry McAuliffe's Office. Through their efforts and collaboration with key stakeholders such as The Virginia Early Childhood Foundation (VECF) and The Virginia Chamber of Commerce, they have been able to create a set of guiding principles for developing a career path in this field.