Since 2007, the Virginia Early Childhood Foundation (VECF) has fostered the creation of 29 Smart Beginnings coalitions, covering 87% of Virginia’s population in nearly 100 localities. These coalitions are the cornerstone of the early childhood system in the state. Moving through multiple phases of growth and sustainability, coalitions harness key community leadership to implement evidence-based strategies with clear and consistent performance measures. VECF and Smart Beginnings document gains and efficiencies and identify and track key indicators of school readiness at the child and community level. Smart Beginnings communities collaborate across public and private sectors, including K-12 education, early care and education, health, local government, faith, family support, social services, higher education, workforce and the business community. A thriving Smart Beginnings community is entrepreneurial and creative, coalescing diverse leadership and engaged commitment to common goals to advance school readiness.
Smart Beginnings is a systems-building model that fosters collaborative efforts to build a comprehensive, locally driven system of high quality early childhood care, education and health services that is accessible to all families and children. Strategic leadership development, intensive technical assistance, and financial resources are provided to communities as they grapple with local and regional challenges impacting the healthy development of young children. VECF and this statewide system of local Smart Beginnings serves as the private partner for the state’s early childhood efforts, driving innovation, accountability and quality, addressing school readiness in a cohesive and systemic way. An important indicator of Smart Beginnings’ success is the level of diverse funding and support (public and private) harnessed in local communities. In FY12, Smart Beginnings partners leveraged more than $8.8 million private and local dollars for investment in early childhood education and development. These local efforts are transforming children, their communities, and the Commonwealth.
Altarum Institute Final Report
The Altarum Institute Final Report is the culmination of a year-long project to evaluate the effectiveness of Smart Beginnings Coalitions and the support provided to coalitions by VECF staff.Using qualitative methods including surveys, interviews, and a progress assessment form, this project built upon a 2 ½ year relationship with Altarum that resulted in an extensive Literature Review of Coalition Development as well as a Toolkit for Effective Coalition Development (available to download on page left).Our sincere thanks to the Smart Beginnings Coalitions, whose Coordinators and coalition members provided important information and feedback that contributed significantly to the evaluation.
This work provides an important foundation for future Smart Beginnings evaluation efforts.
Click here for Final Evaluation Report.
Click here for Final Interview Summary.
Click here for Final Report Appendices.