Press Releases

Smart Beginnings Receives Grant from VDSS

February 20 2010

(February 2010) –Smart Beginnings of Greater Roanoke recently received a $57,000 grant from the Virginia Department of Social Services. These funds will be used for the local implementation of the Virginia Star Quality Initiative during 2009-2011. The Virginia Star Quality Initiative provides a consistent way to distinguish the level of quality in early education programs, allowing parents to make more informed choices about where they
send their children.

Smart Beginnings is a collaborative of community leaders from business, school systems, nonprofits and private individuals working together to ensure that every child in the Roanoke region enters kindergarten with the skills they need to succeed in school and in life. It operates through the support of various local funders like United Way who believe in the value of investing in the community’s youngest citizens.Four childcare centers in the Roanoke Valley became among the first in Virginia to receive their STARs through this rating system in May this year. Early learning providers who participate in this voluntary program are provided with a guide to continually improve the quality of their services. The Virginia Star Quality Initiative awards early childhood programs one of five star levels of increasing quality. Participation and the award of a one-star or higher rating reflects a program’s choice to raise the bar in commitment to quality beyond expectation or requirement. However, the rating is only the first step of the process. After receiving a rating, programs can improve their quality through mentoring and other assistance. All these sites earned a rating of 3 out of 5 stars.

The initiative is administered in partnership by the Virginia Early Childhood Foundation and the Office of Early Childhood Development.

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Early childhood education is critical to our community's future economic well being. It's a question of pay-now or pay-later. Research indicates that if children are prepared when they start school and reading on grade level in their early years, they're far more likely to stay on track and finish school rather than become a costly drain on the community's social service system. Those who finish school are much more likely to become contributing members of our workforce.

Joyce Waugh, CEcD
President, Roanoke Regional Chamber of Commerce

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The United Way of Roanoke Valley serves as the fiscal agent for Smart Beginnings Greater Roanoke.

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