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What is the Preschool Development Grant?

Awarded to the Virginia Department of Education in 2019 and supported by a partnership among VDOE, University of Virginia, and the Virginia Early Childhood Foundation, the Preschool Development Grant Birth to Five (PDG B-5) is a competitive multi-year federal grant. PDG B-5 is designed to improve Virginia’s early childhood landscape, by unifying birth-to-five providers and increasing families' access to quality child care. This grant builds upon existing federal, state, and local early care and learning investments, which results in accelerated development of equitable Virginia early childhood systems. These efforts also help early care and education providers prepare for the implementation of Virginia’s new statewide unified measurement and improvement system (VQB5) (Virginia Early Childhood Foundation, 2021).

More specifically, The Preschool Development Grant is a data-collection grant, allowing state leaders to take a snapshot of the current landscape of early childhood in Virginia, and use that information to inform improvement strategies. PDG also focuses on quality measurement by assessing curriculum and teacher-child interactions. To measure teacher-child interactions, PDG uses a tool called CLASS from UVA/Teachstone. Rather than testing children, the CLASS tool utilizes certified reliable observers to note and measure the teacher behaviors that research has shown to have the best outcomes for children. Teachers receive a CLASS score and focused feedback from their observer in an effort to help them continually improve their teaching practice (Virginia Early Childhood Foundation, 2021).

Meet our PDG Coordinators


My name is Yolanda Hawkins-Johnson and my career in Early Childhood started over 16 years ago when I began working in an early learning setting. I started off as an assistant teacher and ultimately became the program’s coordinator for 8 years. During this time, I attended Lord Fairfax Community College where I received my degree in Early Childhood Education. I am currently pursuing a degree in Leadership and Organizational Management.


Jessica Conway has served as an Early Childhood teacher, coach, and program coordinator. She holds a Master of Arts in Teaching degree from the University of Pittsburgh and lives in Harrisonburg with her husband and two sons.

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