Jim Dyke Authors Column on Need for Exceptional Early Childhood Education

November 8, 2018

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McGuireWoods Consulting senior advisor, Jim Dyke, along with Dixon Hughes Goodman LLP partner, Gary Thomson, authored a Nov. 6 column for the Richmond Times Dispatch on the importance of exceptional early childhood education to provide talent for the future Virginia workforce.

Dyke and Thomson reviewed the importance of early childhood education, and noted that funding for early childhood education programs would not only produce a high return on investment for the future workforce, but also benefit the nearly 400,000 children under the age of 6 in Virginia who have all parents in the workforce.

“Young children are spending significant time in early learning environments — whether center-based, faith-based, school-based, or in-home care,” Dyke and Thompson wrote. “These providers are not only supporting working parents, but are on the front lines of a critical school-readiness opportunity. They are literally brain builders.”

Due to the link between exceptional early childhood education and a talented workforce, the Virginia Chamber of Commerce has partnered with the Virginia Early Childhood Foundation to develop a business plan for early childhood development in Virginia.

Virginia has made progress strengthening how we prepare our children to succeed in school and the workplace, Dyke and Thompson noted, but Virginia’s funding and policies supporting early childhood education consist of a patchwork of programs spread across state agencies, often isolated and disconnected from one another.

At this moment, Virginia does not have an overarching strategic vision or durable framework for early childhood opportunities for all of Virginia’s children. However, legislation is being prepared for the 2019 General Assembly to begin to build a framework for early childhood programs, with a focus on public-private partnerships.

Dyke and Thomson urged the General Assembly to act now to develop that framework.

“While long-term success will ultimately require additional financial investment, it’s more important now to get the structure right to yield the best possible return on the investment for these programs,” Dyke and Thompson said.