Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin filed Executive Order 5-13, which calls for a study of the state's Early Childhood Education System in an effort to improve health, development, and school readiness of children birth to five years of age as well as services available to expectant mothers regarding pre-natal preparation. This is the third executive order related to the governor's comprehensive education reform package, which aims to raise student achievement in West Virginia.
"By focusing our attention on meeting the educational needs of our youngest children, we can establish a strong foundation for academic success long before their first day of kindergarten," Gov. Tomblin said. "West Virginia's Pre-K system is a national leader and, through this review, we will continue this legacy by ensuring the health, development, and school-readiness of our kids."
Executive Order 5-13 establishes the West Virginia Early Childhood Planning Task Force and orders the Task Force to develop a plan, which will:
-Identify services currently available in the state for the purpose of improving the health, development, and school-readiness of children aged birth to five, and, where advisable, identify new services with the same purpose;
-Review services available to expectant mothers regarding pre-natal preparation to improve the health, development, and school-readiness of children at birth;
-Prioritize each service by analyzing the potential impact of each service on early childhood health, development, and school-readiness;
-Identify the costs associated with implementation of the identified priority recommendations;
-Recommend strategies for improving, coordinating and, where advisable, implementing services in the state which improve early childhood health, development, and school-readiness;
-Analyze the value of a Quality Rating and Improvement System with respect to child care services in the state as a critical element of a comprehensive system of services for young children;
-Recommend a plan by which West Virginia could fund the identified priority services;
-Recommend whether changes should be made to the governance of State administration of services pertaining to early childhood and to families with young children, and the steps needed to implement any changes in governance; and
-Recommend strategies to evaluate and assess the effectiveness of early childhood services and recommend changes with respect to these services.
The Task Force will consist of:
-The governor's designee (and chair), Mr. Robert S. Kiss;
-The Secretary of the Department of Education and the Arts, Kay Goodwin; and
-Seven citizens members, appointed by the Governor, who will represent the following:
-A representative of the medical community, Arthur Rubin D.O.;
-A representative of the faith-based community, Ms. Michelle Foster;
-A representative knowledgeable in early childhood education (including the four-year-old kindergarten program), Mr. Lloyd G. Jackson II;
-Two representatives of the business community, Mr. A. Michael Perry and Mr. Justin Siebert;
-An attorney with experience in the field of health and human resources, Ms. Taunja Willis-Miller ;
-A representative with rural school and community development, Ms. Rachel B. Tompkins .
The nine members will submit a report to the governor no later than Dec. 31, 2013 and unless extended by the governor, the Task Force will dissolve March 2014.