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The Early Childhood Workforce Crisis

Early childhood powerfully impacts life trajectories, including educational, employment, economic, and health outcomes. Early childhood professionals aren’t babysitters. They nurture the healthy development of young children. They encourage exploration, discovery, and a love of learning. They set children on a positive trajectory and promote school readiness. Early childhood professionals can positively impact hundreds of children throughout their careers. The NRV has an early childhood workforce crisis – a severe shortage of qualified early educators, harmful levels of stress and teacher turnover primarily due to poverty-level pay. The workforce crisis is negatively impacting the quality of our early childhood programs and therefore the children they serve. Excellent early educators are the foundation of quality early childhood programs, which yield immediate and lifelong benefits. We need to keep excellent early educators in the classroom inspiring lifelong learners, not leaving for better pay in restaurants and retail. The Virginia Early Childhood Foundation (VECF) awarded Smart Beginnings NRV a 2019 Data Initiative Grant to collect and analyze early childhood workforce data, including data on credentials, education, early childhood experience, participation in professional development, compensation and benefits, future career plans, and more. The NRV Early Childhood Workforce Report will be released in September 2019. Some initial findings include: • Despite the importance of their work to the current and future workforce, the national average hourly wage of an early childhood educator is $12.93. The average wage is even lower in the NRV — $9.94 per hour. ● On average, NRV early educators with a Child Development Associate (CDA) credential earn $11.01 per hour. The national average is $12.80. ● Almost 60% of NRV early...

Pulaski County Comprehensive Plan Update

Pulaski County recently conducted a community survey as part of the comprehensive plan update process. This was a broad public engagement effort to identify community priorities and desires which is essential for developing various aspects and elements of the Comprehensive Plan and to guide the County’s future.

Town of Christiansburg Planning Grant

The Regional Commission has been working with the Town of Christiansburg to administer a Planning Grant through the Appalachian Regional Commission. 

‘Communities of the New River Valley’ regional Main Street program coordination

Since late 2018, the Giles County Tourism Office and the New River Valley Regional Commission have been working to implement a Virginia Main Street Commercial District Affiliate grant on behalf of the Town of Narrows. The goal of the $7,000 grant is to coordinate the ‘Main Street’ development efforts of towns in the New River Valley by launching a modified New River Valley version of the successful ‘Hometowns of the Clinch’ model that towns along the Clinch River have developed to help their communities.

New River Valley Trail Guide

The Regional Commission and local Destination Marketing Organizations (DMOs) recently completed the New River Valley Trail Guide, a resource showcasing outdoor recreation assets across the region.