Large Grant for Smart Beginnings

July 25, 2013

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Funds by the Virginia Office of Early Childhood (OECD) Support Area's Young Children

Fredericksburg, VA (July 25, 2013)...Smart Beginnings Rappahannock Area, a community-based coalition devoted to improving access to high quality early childhood education in the region, announced it has received a one-year grant totaling $211,311 from the Virginia Office of Early Childhood Development (OECD), a statewide program committed to expanding opportunities for high-quality early childhood development for Virginia's children.

Smart Beginnings Rappahannock Area (SBRA) is a partnership of more than 40 public and private agencies, businesses, and individuals working toward a common goal: children arrive at school healthy and prepared to succeed in school and in life. SBRA serves Planning District 16, which includes the City of Fredericksburg and Caroline, King George, Spotsylvania, and Stafford Counties.

Funds from this grant will support SBRA's ongoing efforts to deliver the Virginia Star Quality Initiative (VSQI), a statewide system designed to provide a consistent way to distinguish the level of quality in early education programs. As the fiscal agent for the North Central Region, SBRA will also begin working with early childhood programs in Culpeper and Fauquier Counties. During the past five years, Smart Beginnings Rappahannock Area has served over 2,200 children in 27 early learning centers. In addition, scholarships have been awarded to preschool and early learning center staff for professional development. Through this one-year grant, SBRA plans to work with 12 additional early learning centers/preschools and 3 home care providers, totaling 42 sites for 2013-2014.

"We are thrilled to receive this grant so Smart Beginnings can continue to offer early learning centers support in assessing and improving the quality of their services and begin working with home care providers," said Sara Branner, SBRA's Executive Director. "This voluntary quality rating and improvement system awards early learning programs who choose to participate one of five star levels of increasing quality. After receiving a rating, programs are given tools to improve their quality through mentoring and other assistance. Receiving the grant allows SBRA to broaden its scope of impact in early childhood education."

Other initiatives of Smart Beginnings Rappahannock Area include:
• Al's Pals: Kids Making Healthy Choices, a resiliency-based early childhood curriculum and teacher training program that develops personal, social, and emotional skills in children 3 to 8 years old. Al's Pals intervention shows statistically significant improvement in prosocial skills and behaviors.
• Parent Education Program - Ages and Stages Questionnaire (ASQ), a childhood developmental screening tool that identifies strengths or possible concerns and educates parents about developmental milestones.
• Passport to Kindergarten, a community-based program that facilitates a connection among early learning centers, preschools, kindergarten staff, and parents to foster the kindergarten transition process.

For more information on Smart Beginnings Rappahannock Area, visit

# # #
Sara Branner
Executive Director
Smart Beginnings Rappahannock Area
Phone: 540.479.6944
Fax: 540.479.1018

Smart Beginnings Rappahannock Area
Ready for School. Ready for Life.

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