The VICCC Story
“Research tells us that during the first three to five years of life, 85 to 90 percent of the brain’s “wiring” takes place, forever impacting a child’s ability to learn. The simple skills learned through play and exploration in a high quality, early childhood program forms the foundation upon which additional skills are built. Nobel Prize-winning economist James Heckman sums up the trajectory this way: “skills beget skills.”
Child’s play, then, is important and serious business for the rest of us.
The research is clear: greater investment in the early development of a child increases the potential to create a must more productive citizen. The payoff? More highly educated individuals, a stronger competitive workforce, safer and more prosperous communities, and a viral economy for the Commonwealth.”
-Governor Tim Kaine
In 2003, a group of Blacksburg friends from local faith groups gathered to identify the most pressing social needs in the New River Valley. They wanted to see if there was a way to address one of these needs on an interfaith basis. The group quickly identified the plight of the low-income working parents with infant and toddler children, who had few or no choices of good, affordable places to leave their children while they worked. At the most critical time in the child’s development, many of the youngest and poorest in our Valley are missing out on the experiences that could make the difference in their ability to succeed in kindergarten and in life. And their parents were under great stress as they tried to juggle being both good parents and good employees.
The group began publicizing this issue, and found immediate and heartfelt responses for the vision of offering high-quality, affordable, fully state-licensed care to the children of low-income working families of the Valley. Recognizing that people of different faiths may have different theological outlooks, the founders discerned that all traditions come together in their love of children and their belief that the community wants to help struggling families care for the youngest. Board members and friends have come from Christian, Jewish, Buddhist, Muslim, Hindu, and Baha’i communities. VICCC’s curriculum is secular, modeled on that of other high quality privately-run programs.
VICCC was formally organized early in 2004. A Board of Directors sought and obtained 501(c)(3) status as a not-for-profit organization. Financial support was strong. Contributions from a community that recognized the need began coming in, and before the end of 2004 almost $100,000 was raised. After operating in separate centers in Christiansburg and Blacksburg, VICCC is now located in the beautiful facility owned by Good Shepherd Church of the Brethren at the corner of Prices Fork and Heather Drive. About 115 children have had safe, loving and learning experiences that prepare them to be successful in the next phases of their lives. This is Workforce Development at its best.
Scores of community volunteers, at both sites, are offering the children the enrichment experiences that will not only help them enjoy each day, but that will help them be ready for kindergarten and for life. Art, music, creative play, rhythm and movement, puppetry, elementary science and gardening, along with lots of reading, are developing young minds that will be curious and responsive to the world around them.
“Virginia has a tremendous opportunity-one that we cannot afford to ignore. To ensure a strong economy and competitive workforce, Virginia must invest in its human capital beginning in the earliest years of every child’s life.”
-Senator Mark R. Warner