By Cynthia Long
There is no shortage of child care and preschool centers in Northern Virginia, but according to Fahemeh Pirzadeh, co-president of Northern Virginia for the Education of Young Children, the challenge is finding affordable, quality programs.
NVAEYC is an affiliate of the National Association for the Education of Young Children, a professional membership organization that advocates for the education of young children and provides professional development to early childhood educators.
What are the challenges facing parents who are looking for early education programs for their children in Northern Virginia?
“The biggest challenge, here and everywhere, is access. [We] need to have early education be affordable for all families. Early education should be available to everyone, not just for those who can afford it. Another challenge is finding quality programs where there is a low student-to-teacher ratio, where staff members have higher education degrees, where there is ongoing training in best practices and theory for staff, where there is a healthy, safe environment for children. There are quite a few in our region, but there are many that need to be improved.”
Why should access to quality, affordable preschool be more of a priority?
“We should always want the best for our children, and when we provide the very best care and education for our young children, especially for our low-income families, research shows that they will give back to the community. Early education has a long-term impact that eventually leads to more productive, healthier lives and higher earning potential, which adds to communities rather than draining from it. “
How can preschools and child care centers tap into your resources?
“We are always here to help. We serve all of Northern Virginia and are available to anyone and everyone who needs help or has questions. We offer academic scholarships for those currently pursuing a degree with an emphasis in early childhood education and training scholarships for those wishing to carry out the professional development plan of their licensed center. It’s an exciting time in our field, and we encourage members from across the early education landscape, from executive directors to educators to staff from government offices for children. We had about 200 members in 2014, and we now have more than 700 working to ensure that every young child in Northern Virginia has access to excellent care and to excellent education.”