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news – may 2011

“Imagine West Virginia Members Support the West Virginia Early Childhood Advisory Council; Executive Director Rick Remish Appointed to Fill the Council’s Business Seat”

Through various means, Imagine West Virginia has continued to promote and advance themes, policies and activities associated with West Virginia early childhood programming and investment.  Imagine’s 2009 policy campaign, Right & Smart, was successful for many reasons, yet a key strategy of tying that pronouncement to the outstanding work of then-Governor Manchin’s Partners Implementing an Early Care and Education System (PIECES) Advisory Council proved pivotal.  The PIECES Council, comprised of diverse volunteer early childhood advocates from throughout West Virginia, was established by the Governor in October, 2007, to study the state’s governance of early childhood programs, develop quality standards for them, and examine financing of a more comprehensive early care and education system.  The work of PIECES sought to coordinate birth-to-five early childhood policies, programs and resources that ensure that every West Virginia child receives the best possible chance to be healthy and ready to learn.

In 2008, West Virginia was awarded grant funds from the National Governors Association to advance the work of the PIECES Governance Committee to create recommendations on an administrative structure for the state’s early care and education system.  Once compiled, these recommendations were provided to the Governor for approval; upon adoption, PIECES began to implement them.  Initial activities included hiring consultants to assist in the ongoing activities of the Governance Committee to engage and educate key stakeholders on the importance and benefits of committing state investments in early childhood programs.

In 2010, the PIECES Council transitioned into a new Governor-appointed “early childhood advisory council.”  This restructuring was undertaken in response to the Obama Administration’s generous budgetary commitments to assist states and their stakeholders in more aggressively engaging in policy development for the education of young children.  Under federal statutes meeting the provisions of the Improving the Head Start Act of 2007, states that establish a collaborative body like an advisory council - dedicated to early education and care issues that serve children from birth-to-school entry - would favorably qualify for substantial levels of federal assistance to build greater coherence among federal, state and local early childhood programs and services.  In July, 2010, Governor Manchin issued an Executive Order (EO) that converted PIECES to the Early Childhood Advisory Council of West Virginia, an entity to be based in the West Virginia Department of Education and the Arts and whose mission is to create a high-quality, coordinated system of services that support early childhood development.  West Virginia Department of Education and the Arts Cabinet Secretary Kay Goodwin serves as Chair of this new body, and the Council consists of 16 representatives from many key groups including the Department of Education, the Higher Education Policy Commission, the Division of Early Care and Education, Head Start, WV Birth to Three, In-Home Family Education and the business community.  Imagine West Virginia’s Executive Director, Rick Remish, is privileged to hold current membership on the Council representing the business seat.  (Click here to review the Council’s membership.) 

In the first order of business, the Council’s Executive Committee was tasked with developing by-laws, a strategic work plan and subcommittee structures to support the function of the Council.  To review the Council’s Executive Order, click here; the by-laws, click here; and the work-plan, click here.   

The Council has six subcommittees designed around the major goals of its work plan.  Members of Imagine West Virginia have been invited to serve the Council by voluntarily contributing their time, passion and ideas to the work of the subcommittees, and many have encouraged additional West Virginians to engage and advance its work.  (Click here to review the structure of the Council work-teams.) 

In Spring, 2011, the Governor announced the public launch of the Council’s website, which will be the central communications point for the Council’s work in addition to serving as a central clearinghouse for state and national early childhood programs, policy and research.  To review the Governor’s statement, click here for the press release.  A link to the Council's website is available within the first paragraph of the press release or you may click here for more information.  

Imagine West Virginia Chairman T. Joseph Lopez noted “Our organization is pleased to support the diligent, focused work of West Virginia’s Early Childhood Advisory Council.  The Council’s establishment is timely, and it is critically important that every West Virginia citizen own a stake in its work-plan and outcomes.  West Virginia must always be a place where our kids can grow up believing that their highest ambitions are never out of reach.  The single most important thing we can do today to ensure a strong, successful future is to invest in our kids early and often, because what we do now will determine exactly what kind of state West Virginia will be in generations to come.”