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State renews funding of TCC initiative to improve early-childhood education

The Virginia Department of Social Services has renewed its funding of Tidewater Community College’s early-childhood education initiative.

Since June 2013, TCC has been the Eastern Region lead for the Virginia Star Quality Initiative (VSQI), the statewide early childhood program. The college has received $247,000 for the 2014-15 fiscal year to continue its work with its partners to:

  • improve the quality of day care centers in Hampton Roads;
  • fund scholarships for educators who care for very young children; and
  • enhance the early childhood curriculum at TCC.

“While the true legacy of this grant is still years in the making, our early demonstrations of success indicate confidence about what we will accomplish in the upcoming fiscal year,” said President Edna V. Baehre-Kolovani. “Our goal remains improving early-childhood education in order to better prepare our children for their eventual college education and introduction into the workforce.”
Previously, the grant had been under the auspices of Smart Beginnings. With the organization transitioning into statewide advocacy as Elevate Early Education (E3), TCC agreed to apply for the state grant a year ago to continue the QRIS momentum. It will be leveraging its influence through many partners, including Eastern Shore and Paul D. Camp community colleges; Smart Beginnings Western Tidewater; early childhood coalitions in Norfolk, Chesapeake, Suffolk and Virginia Beach; the Planning Council; and Children’s Harbor in Portsmouth.
The state’s Quality Rating and Improvement System – or QRIS – assures parents that their children’s day care centers and preschools have qualified teachers and caregivers and enriching programs.
Among the VSQI successes in its first year:

  • All center-based and family home provider recruitment, rating and training goals were met or exceeded.
  • Region-wide efficiencies resulted from transitioning the traditional one-on-one training model to mentor-led group training.
  • New partnerships were established with family home care providers.
  • St. Patrick Catholic School in Norfolk became the first five-star rated preschool program in Hampton Roads.
  • QRIS content was embedded into TCC Early Childhood Development coursework and shared with education partners across the Eastern Region.

    Sarah Gunnell, VSQI coordinator for the Eastern Region, said ambitious goals for the coming year include identifying and engaging new family home caregivers, expanding VSQI onto the Eastern Shore and developing web-based resources for mentor training.

“The Eastern Region is rich in quality early care,” Gunnell said. “It is so exciting to help identify and support these professionals who are dedicated to quality education for our children.”
The college’s Educational Foundation raises additional funds to support the program. For information, visit For information on VSQI at TCC, visit