What is the Arlington Child Care Initiative?
Child care is a key component of a thriving, diverse community. For Arlington to remain competitive as the preeminent place to live, work, and play in the region, the County Manager charged staff to develop solutions to address the accessibility, availability, and quality of child care in Arlington.
The Child Care Initiative (CCI) will promote the development of an inclusive, integrated child care system that effectively serves all Arlington County families, with a priority focus on vulnerable populations. This system will be strengthened by engagement, participation, and collaboration across a diverse network of stakeholders, and will ultimately increase child care availability and accessibility (to include affordability), and improve the overall quality of child care programs.
In fall 2017, the County Manager established a CCI Leadership Roundtable comprised of 22 individuals (parents, child care providers, educators) who have knowledge of Virginia’s and Arlington’s child care regulations and resources. The CCI Leadership Roundtable will set priorities, establish timelines, receive regular progress updates, report to the County and School Boards on the initiative’s activities, and make recommendations to the County and School Boards for action. The CCI Leadership Roundtable has established a CCI Work Group that is responsible for determining how to best execute the CCI action plan.
- Preliminary Work Phase (summer and fall 2017): Beginning in 2017, County staff launched a coordinated effort to bring together stakeholders from the public and private sectors, collect data, identify resources, engage with experts, and identify issues. This core group of more than 60individuals developed a draft action plan that was completed in December 2017. The team also compiled a detailed demographic overview of child care in Arlington, which was used to inform development of the draft action plan.
- Public Engagement Phase (winter 2017 – spring 2018): The draft action plan was a starting point for a much broader public engagement phase. The plan offers a number of proposed action steps by which to meet specific goals within the identified focus areas — accessibility, availability, and quality. This phase gave community members an opportunity to review the earlier work and provide input that informed a revised action plan. Feedback was accepted through many channels, including a community meeting on January 25, 2018 at Central Library.
- Implementation Phase (summer 2018 – present): Now that the Arlington County Board has accepted the revised action plan, the Child Care Initiative work group and subgroups have begun the work as spelled out in the identified action steps. The time frames for completion will vary depending upon the complexity and urgency of the tasks.