Virginia First Lady Pamela Northam completes tour of Southwest Virginia schools and childcare centers
August 20, 2021
Virginia First Lady Pamela Northam Thursday completed a two-day swing through Southwest Virginia during which she toured schools and childcare centers. The first lady read to students and visited with teachers and administrators. The tour, hosted by the United Way of Southwest Virginia, gave the first lady the chance to see first-hand how state-funded preschool programs are working.
On Tuesday, the Northam administration said it has authorized more than $150 million for the Virginia Preschool Initiative and Mixed Delivery this year. The administration expects those programs to serve more than 25,000 three- and four-year-olds this fall. Virginia’s Child Care and Development Block Grant received $793 million of additional American Rescue Plan funds approved by the General Assembly earlier this month.
“Maximizing the federal dollars that are coming down right now has been really important to us, and getting them out as quickly as possible to wonderful providers like this and to families who need it,” Northam said during a visit to the Imagination Station in Pearisburg, Va.
Northam said the administration is committed to helping Virginia’s children be prepared to learn before their first day of kindergarten. “We’re going to preschools because we know to make a successful K-12 experience, we need those earliest years, where so much brain development occurs. About 90 percent of brain development occurs before a child even gets to kindergarten.”
By taking an early childhood approach instead of waiting for kindergarten, Northam said, Virginia is helping parents prepare their children not only for school, but for success as adults. “Each and every one of those children deserve a great opportunity to succeed in life, and the governor and I believe there’s powerful potential in every child,” Northam said. “We’re talking about the workforce of tomorrow. Virginia is No.1 for business in the nation; we want to keep it that way, and businesses come here because they know we have that cradle-to-career pipeline.”
During her two-day trip to Southwest Virginia, Mrs. Northam visited schools and childcare centers in Rich Creek, Pearisburg, Pulaski, Abingdon, Grundy and Richlands.
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Virginia First Lady Pamela Northam interacts with children in a Virginia Preschool Initiative classroom at Pulaski County Elementary School
Virginia First Lady Pamela Northam with Blue Mountain Therapy President Clint Waddell in Abingdon
Photos courtesy United Way of Southwest Virginia
ABOUT UNITED WAY OF SOUTHWEST VIRGINIA
United Way of Southwest Virginia fights for the health, education and financial stability of every person in Southwest Virginia because they are the building blocks for a good quality of life. Through an initiative-based cradle-to-career approach, United Way of Southwest Virginia is creating sustainable solutions to address the challenges facing tomorrow’s workforce. United Way convenes cross-sector partners to make an impact on the most complex problems in our region. Through collaboration with government, business, nonprofit and individuals, United Way innovates for positive, lasting social change. With a footprint that covers nearly 20% of the state of Virginia, United Way of Southwest Virginia programs and initiatives serve the counties of Bland, Buchanan, Carroll, Dickenson, Floyd, Giles, Grayson, Lee, Montgomery, Pulaski, Russell, Scott, Smyth, Tazewell, Washington, Wise, and Wythe, and the cities of Bristol, Galax, Norton, and Radford. For more information about United Way of Southwest Virginia, visit UnitedWaySWVA.org.