RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — With a goal of establishing universal child care in Virginia by 2025, Democratic gubernatorial contender Jennifer McClellan shared the first step of her three-part education plan Friday to invest $4 billion to help improve access for families.
McClellan, a state senator from Richmond who announced her gubernatorial run in June, called her Universal Child Care and Early Learning plan a “necessary investment” to address an ongoing crisis that has only been exacerbated by the global pandemic. McClellan said it will be a central part of the education platform she aims to deliver if elected.
“The coronavirus crisis has worsened Virginia’s child care and early learning crisis, and dramatically impacted lives for so many families,” McClellan said Friday. “We need to address the underlying problem: underinvestment in early childhood education and lack of affordability for too many Virginia families.”
Waivers for free child care would be supplied to families that earn up to 200% of the federal poverty level and no family would have to pay more than 7% of their total income on care under McClellan’s proposal. According to the plan, such an investment would create more than 80,000 new jobs in Virginia.
“As governor, Jennifer McClellan will deliver universal child care by 2025: ensuring that every Virginia child has access to affordable child care,” the plan states. “Her plan will provide increased access to affordable child care for more than 500,000 Virginia children. Under McClellan’s plan, every family with a child from birth through 4 years old will have access to affordable quality child care.”
McClellan hopes creating a statewide system will help take Virginia “out of the bottom 10 in the country for child care affordability,” and make it a national leader instead.
“Young children need positive stimulation to develop their brains,” Meg Gruber, an educator and former president of the Virginia Education Association, said in a statement. “Quality child care is essential to provide the proper building blocks for a child’s success in school.”
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