Ready Region Southwest Coalition holds first in-person meeting
June 13, 2022
Members of the Ready Region Southwest Coalition, a group of childcare providers from Lee County to the New River Valley, met May 18 at the Southwest Virginia Higher Education Center in Abingdon to learn more about the potential benefits of the Ready Regions initiative.
Around 90 childcare providers, educators, government representatives, and interested parents from across Southwest Virginia attended the Coalition meeting, the first held in-person since the beginning of the pandemic.
United Way of Southwest Virginia (UWSWVA) works with the coalition for Ready Regions. Ready Regions, coordinated through the Virginia Early Childhood Foundation, is designed to bring unprecedented levels of coordination, accountability, and family engagement to early education programs in every community in the Commonwealth.
After UWSWVA Director of Childhood Success Dr. Susan Patrick gave an overview of the Ready Regions system and what it means for the members of the coalition, UWSWVA President and CEO Travis Staton spoke. Staton presented information regarding the Ready SWVA project, funding for which is in the upcoming state budget just approved by the Virginia General Assembly, as well as a partially grant-funded plan that will see employers voluntarily match funds to help their own employees afford childcare.
Ready SWVA will create a shared services platform allowing child care centers across the region to leverage combined buying power to achieve cost savings for all. Coalition members learned that the grant- and employer-funded benefit plan is currently slated to be implemented this fall, with additional funds still being sought.
The coalition also heard from UWSWVA Childhood Success Outreach Coordinator Crystal Rasnake about the Birth to 5 Hub, an online portal at unitedwayswva.org/birthto5hub which allows families to search by county for affordable, accessible childcare.
The next meeting of the Ready Region Southwest Coalition is scheduled to be a virtual meeting July 20 at 1:30 p.m. via Zoom.