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Early Care and Education

% of Childcare Deserts

Current Value




47 percent of people in Virginia live in a child care desert.

A child care desert is any census tract with more than 50 children under age 5 that contains either no child care providers or so few options that there are more than three times as many children as licensed child care slots.


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Story Behind the Curve

Data on Childcare Deserts on the Peninsula can be found here:::


The ECE working group began this meeting to discuss the importance of childcare business sustainability and strategies to improve the awareness for the community. Business sustainability for childcare centers and socio-emotional support for children go hand in hand. Childcare centers are neccessary for our economy to reopen after COVID.  

Data? We know that before the COVID epidemic, about 47% of our community lived in childcare deserts based on census tract data. Some census tracts were effected more than others. Since the COVID pandemic, about 50% of childcare centers have temporarily closed their doors for various reasons (affordability, safety of staff, parents deciding to keep children home, observice social distance requirements given by state). 

We are concerned that many wont reopen after the pandemic and that childcare slots will decrease drastically, further exascerbating already alarming data about access to quality early childhood experiences. 

If childcare centers are unable to reopen, children will be unable to receive the socio-emotional support that childcare staff are trained to provide AND families will be unable to return to work. 

Business sustainability affects adults and the economy, which then affects the emotional wellness of children and the overall strength of families. The world is paying attention to the importance of childcare right now. Lets take advantage. 


Flat - We want it to go Up (Include child care literacy)

Factors pushing up the trendline?

  • New State COVID related funding available 
  • Awareness of the issue - lack of child care and the importance
  • CNI project wants to build a child care site Ready Network and City of NN put $$ into family child care supply
  • City of NN has listed early education as a priority and wants to use an old building(s) to build child care sites esp for 4 yr olds - they met with folks from TX about this recently and I sat in
  • Support from the Governor/State

Factors pushing down the trendline?

  • Lack of books/supplies 
  • The business model is based on parent fees 
  • Limited profit for high-quality centers
  • High liability
  • Not enough providers
  • Not enough staff -can make more other places
  • Not everyone understands the value of childcare and the importance for educational success (including policymakers)
  • Limited childcare subsidies available 
  • COVID unemployment rate 
  • In a survey that we have sent to Hampton SS customers, they don't want to send their children to daycare due to COVID.
  • lack of education around what quality childcare looks like (parents)
  • formal vs informal childcare settings
  • knowledge for providers about best practices (quality rating system)
  • Are there incentives that can be provided for providers to engage in quality childcare practices? 
  • people feel more comfortable going to 'nationally branded centers'
  • employee retention at nationally branded centers
  • providers need support prior to opening (high-quality standards are infused at this point)
    • What does high touch support look like for them? What does it feel like? Are we holding their hand to walk thru the opening/development process
    • how can we support providers in providing nontraditional hours?

Factors causing disparities.

  • Financial barriers for people (Limited childcare subsidies available)
  • the distrust that families have of organized systems (rather have family members watch children based on cost for childcare)
  • perception of safety in low-income communities
  • have not found a way to ensure providers have basic core knowledge ((lack of)professional development)
  • there needs to be more support for incubation childcare centers
  • equitable resources for providers (books, equipment, furniture, advertising/marketing, etc.)
  • quality of care is not the same across the and emotional support, nontraditional work hours, 

Anticipated (future/emerging) factors?

  • COVID-19 long term
  • Economy/Covid based impact (latest data indicates that 59% of child care sites have open spots)
  • Virtual schooling (technology: hotspots)
  • money is coming from DSS, priority list has been made. bonuses for teachers working with children 3-12 and newly hired teachers. technology. equipment for food, classroom furniture, renovation dollars, age-appropriate tools for children


Factors requiring additional research?

  • Identify the areas of greatest need
  • Do we have any local data regarding COVID cases in child care centers?
  • data points to validate that the childcare deserts are in areas of high crime/low-income communities
  • are neighbors 'partners'?
  • perception of nationally branded centers vs home/family centers

What are the top priority factors to address?

  • Tuition assistance for school-aged students
  • support and guidance for new directors and owners (mentoring program)
  • support for students around virtual learning/unplugging techniques/social and emotional support
  • open the lines of communication with the school system
  • Funding to support the tips and strategies for unplugging the brain


Community Services Board

Local Media Outlets-newspapers, public television, social media of each agency, WooWoo, Channel 3, etc. 

Peninsula Chamber of Commerce- How can we partner to share the importance of childcare centers for the local economy? 

Childcare centers


Who are the Partners (internal or external) and their specific roles to Turn the Curve? (Address the priority factors)

  • City of Newport News
  • Hampton Roads Community Action 
  • VA Quality
  • churches
  • neighborhood association
  • Redevelopment and housing
  • Infant/Toddler Specialist Network (123 Read Training) Jerry Graham
  • Engaged Parents Group, parents, and community members. 

What are the top priority factors to address?

  • Funding for new childcare sites coming down the line
    • where are the new sites? 
    • are they in literacy deserts/childcare deserts?
  • Tuition assistance for school-aged students
    • CASSAC
  • support and guidance for new directors and owners (mentoring program)
    • Ready Network/VA Quality 
    • Business School for new providers?
    • Higher Ed(?)
  • Funding to support the tips and strategies for unplugging the brain/support for students around virtual learning/unplugging techniques/social and emotional support
    • Alternatives
    • Libraries
  • open the lines of communication with the school system
    • CII Parent/Community Working Group
    • EC&E WG
  • Literacy deserts: Library, literacy workshops for new directors/teachers. How to build literacy-rich environments. Make Way for Books

What Works

Evidence based practices  for economic sustainability and socio-emotional supports. 

  • Socio-emotional trainings for child care teachers and directors. 
    • There isn't any current direct trainings with parents for behavior support due to lack of interest. 
  • Community providing internet access to parents so that they can access online resources. 
  • From Diane regarding state taskforce: “Child care is a critical workforce facilitator and is essential to a healthy, functioning economy in Virginia,” said Stephen Moret. Recommendations of the task force are expected to highlight strategies to adequately and sustainably fund early care and education, diversify and maximize financing, reconceptualize and strengthen business practices and models, and recognize the cost drivers of quality child care services as both a public and private good."---Although there are no educators on this task force, it is developing as a place to align our efforts.
  • Melissa – presenting tomorrow on social-emotional development to directors. Working on learning communities.


What Works to Turn the Curve? (Actions to address the priority factors)


Research and Evidence-Based?



Public Policy Changes?



Low or No-Cost Ideas?



Off-the Wall ideas? (No limit to cost or imagination)




  • In order to extend the knowledge that teachers are receiving related to socio-emotional wellbeing for children to parents, it is important for us to know where parents are and reach them there. Media outlets and reaching parents through social media is best during covid. Build a social media package with messaging and branding that each ECE participant can share broadly on their agency social media pages. 
  • Public Awareness campaigns based on the economic importance of childcare centers as well as the importance of them being the vehicle to provide holistic socio-emotional support. Build messaging.
  • Alternatives is already providing Als Pals training. Is there a way to partner to share at home with parents? 
  • Blog post sharing? SBVP already has a blog on their website. This can be used to build messaging. 

Strategy (11.19.2020)

  • Hire a person to be in the child care classroom to supervise virtual learning
  • Funding to support the tips and strategies for unplugging the brain/support for students around virtual learning/unplugging techniques/social and emotional support
    • Texting App for parents, mass mailing, connect with the school system to send out via school app (Vue for NN)
      • Alternatives/CSB/CHKD/other partners who have content expertise and distribution
      • 1/13/21 Update:
      • guide book for virtual learning. It will be diverse it will be translated into other languages. Alternatives will speak to community partners to incorporate strategies they are using that are working. Ages 3-12. Money from DSS. Library System has provided input. Data for completion: June, but perhaps March/April. There will be a glossary of terms. 
      • ideas for parents: how to use zoom? difference between ipad/laptop. equipment tutorials. 
      • Libraries incorporated information.
      • Can the schools be a co-sponsor to distribute widely? Alternatives/CSB/CHKD/HeadStart other partners who have content expertise and distribution.
  • conversation with the preschool initiative taskforce
    • Letter from engaged parents to open lines of communication with the school system, develop strategies around virtual learning, resources for parents and students aside from learning, letters of support from partners
      • CII Parent/Community Working Group
      • EC&E WG 

1/13/2021 Update:

  • Head Start does work with parents on empowerment on speaking with school leaders/advocacy efforts. Tiffany will connect with Mrs. Franklin from Head Start.
  • Request a specific place for parents from the school admin?
    • Letter. Annemarie will provide contact information for the best person to send letter to.
    • Coordinated Enrollment Strategy for the region.
    • Coordinated Enrollment Strategy for the Region
      • Can we reach out to the preschool/K coordinators to find out what the registration process is, How can we outline that process out for parents or share the details widely in the community?
      • The Collective Impact Working Group on Southside has rolled one out as has Richmond if we take this on in some way
        • do we want to invite someone from Richmond to discuss their coordinated enrollment process.
          • LABT with reach out Meg in Richmond and Beth Parker (EVMS minus 9-5) to see if they can join the next meeting to do a presentation on CEP

Additional Notes:

Add teenagers to the group – e.g. Ambassadors

Tech piece in Guidebook – translations into different languages – tutorials, YouTube

Preschool transition people – HS does; do other preschools?

VPI Fact Sheet

Coordinated enrollment/regional strategy

CI group on Southside has rolled out a coordinated effort

Rolling calendar – HS, public schools

Social emotional mindfulness info – give to Hattie

Who else to bring to the table for distribution?

Bridge with HS to school system

Invite someone from Southside or Richmond to talk with us/Diane



March 3, 2021

Alternatives Mindfulness Guidebook update: Ragen to begin reviewing guidebook week of March 8, 2021. Kelly Cartwright volunteered to review. 


Next Strategy/step: reconnecting to the literacy and child care deserts.

How did we define child care desert and literacy desert?

Strategy: impact literacy deserts by creating multiple 'little free libraries all over the city

            Where can we put books in the community to increase access?

                         pediatrician offices

                         social services


                         Little free libraries in multiple places around town: what is the cost of a little free library? Can we partner with the library system to implement this strategy>

                         Reach out and read: books at hospitals in NICU

                         Reach Read; located in Norfolk, Military Circle Mall, gives out books, they have a free bookstore, maybe we can partner with them to

                         open a free bookstore on the Peninsula

                         Books on Bikes

                 Give out books at the vaccine clinic

                 Hampton City Schools has a book bus


Strategy: Parent Education and Mental Health/Social & Emotional development

Break the stigma on mental health and parent education






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