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Human Services Progresses With Early Childhood Initiatives

The Department of Human Services Office of Childcare and Regulatory Services (OCCRS) has made considerable strides toward its mission to provide quality childcare for the children of the Virgin Islands. The efforts are far-reaching and part of the long-standing goal of the department to promote the benefits of early learning. Mini-grants totaling $233,761 were awarded to 105 childcare providers territory-wide for fiscal year 2009-2010. Recipients of the grants will use the funds to improve quality childcare through enhancing the educational curriculum, health and safety standards, and overall operations. Forty-eight providers received grant funds totaling $103,061 on St. Croix and 57 providers on St. Thomas received a total of $130,700, according to a press release from DHS.

Two hundred children from low-income families will attend summer camp in 2010 through the OCCRS Child Subsidy Unit. Children ages 3-12 will engage in educational activity by participating in any of the 102 licensed summer camp programs throughout the territory.
Funding from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) grant was used to develop the ARRA Childcare Fund. One hundred and seventeen children from low-income families have received subsidies for childcare in the 2009-2010 school year. In fiscal year 2009-2010, a 60-second public service announcement (PSA) to promote quality childcare was produced and marketed on radio and TV. It served as an educational tool for parents by providing essential attributes of an optimal childcare facility. Additionally, Human Services through the Office of the Governor’s Children and Family Council hosted a business leaders’ summit on early childhood investment on June 14 and 15 on St. Croix and St. Thomas, respectively. Approximately 100 business leaders, policy makers and other members of the community heard lectures and engaged in discussions about a wide range of topics from the science of child development to the economic Impact of proven early childhood investments. The Community Foundation of the Virgin Islands, the St. Croix Chamber of Commerce, Partnership for America’s Economic Success and the Economic Development Authority sponsored the summit.
It is the hope of the department to successfully prepare Virgin Islands youth for their future by providing high quality early childcare and education.
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