McClellan Releases Early Learning Plan, Calling for Universal Child Care in Virginia

McClellan rolls out detailed proposal to ensure every Virginia family will have access to affordable, high-quality child care and early childhood education

Richmond– On Friday, Virginia candidate for governor Sen. Jennifer McClellan (D-Richmond) announced a Universal Child Care and Early Learning Plan that will invest a historic $4 billion in the state’s early childhood education system, and provide increased access to affordable child care for more than 500,000 Virginia children.

McClellan’s plan comes as Virginia’s child care system has faced major strain during the COVID-19 crisis. Nearly 1,000 Virginia’s child care facilities are still closed, which has sent a ripple effect through Virginia’s economy – including women dropping out of the workforce at record rates. New Bureau of Labor Statistics data out this week showed that women accounted for all of the U.S. economy’s job losses in December – and that Black and Latina women were disproportionately impacted.

McClellan’s plan would call for child care and early learning to be recognized as a public necessity that will be affordable and accessible for all Virginia families. The Universal Child Care and Early Learning Plan will:

  • Provide Virginia families that earn up to 200% of the poverty level with waivers for free child care. 
  • Ensure no family in Virginia will pay above 7% of their income for child care. 
  • Create more than 80,000 new jobs for Virginians in the new child care system. 

Even before the pandemic, Virginia ranked 40th in the country in affordability of infant care.

READ: Sen. McClellan’s Universal Child Care and Early Learning Plan 

“Rebuilding Virginia starts with our families and children,” Sen. McClellan said. “The coronavirus crisis has worsened Virginia’s child care and early learning crisis, and dramatically impacted lives for so many families. We need to address the underlying problem: underinvestment in early childhood education and lack of affordability for too many Virginia families.

“Today, I am proposing a new plan that will ensure universal child care and early learning for Virginia families. The Universal Child Care and Early Learning Plan will guarantee every family access to affordable, high-quality child care. This is a necessary investment into the children, families, workforce, and economy of Virginia. This child care and early learning policy will make Virginia a national leader in child care and early childhood education affordability and help get Virginians back to work.”

McClellan’s child care and early learning plan is part 1 in her 3-part plan to invest in Virginia’s education system from birth to career. 

“In our modern world, child care is truly an extension of our education system and its prohibitive cost is yet another thing that disadvantages students of color.” said Jacinta Greene, Alexandria School Board Member. “I applaud Sen. McClellan for her bold vision for the future of Virginia’s child care system which will allow us to make huge strides in taking on educational inequity.”

“Young children need positive stimulation to develop their brains,” said Meg Gruber, educator and former president of the Virginia Education Association. “Quality child care is essential to provide the proper building blocks for a child’s success in school.”

“This plan means that my family and other families will have quality care for our children which will in turn allow us to contribute to our communities in more meaningful ways knowing our children are well cared for,” said Fatima M. Smith, a mother, small business owner, social worker, and advocate from Henrico County. “This plan means we will begin to match our words with our actions with regards to education by investing in higher pay and access to benefits for child care workers. How can we expect child care workers to provide quality care for our children when we don’t value them enough to properly pay them and give them benefits? When our child care workers are taken care of, our children are taken care of and, in turn, that provides peace of mind to families.”