Kids' First Years

ALX Preschool Network Simplifies Preschool Enrollment Process for Parents

Robin Crawley (left) and Jane Richardson, co-chairs of the Kids’ First Years Access Committee, helped to create ALX Preschool in collaboration with many community partners.

By Michelle Smith Howard, President and CEO, Kids’ First Years

Alexandria, VA – Starting soon, families will have a much easier time enrolling their young children in preschool in Alexandria. The City of Alexandria’s Department of Community and Human Services (DCHS) has announced a coordinated enrollment initiative called ALX Preschool. It is a network of childcare programs, both public and private, that allows families to use one application to apply to participating programs.

The application form can be selected in Amharic, Arabic, Dari, English, and Spanish. “This helps to remove any barriers to the enrollment process,” said Muriel Tapia, Executive Coordinator for Kids’ First Years (KFY).

KFY’s Access Committee was a driving force behind the creation of ALX Preschool. The committee co-chairs were Jane Richardson, Citywide Early Childhood Coordinator with Alexandria City Public Schools (ACPS), and Robin Crawley, Chief of the Early Childhood Division for the City of Alexandria.

“This is a huge system change,” said Richardson. “ALX Preschool opens up opportunities for as many local families as possible to join a preschool program that best meets their needs. Registrars will work personally with each family on the site selection and enrollment.”

Crawley shared that the vision of “No Wrong Door” support of matching families with appropriate early childcare options started years ago. “A major hurdle was developing processes and systems for linkage and data sharing,” she said. “This required building trust among partners – a key to moving forward.”

Coordinated enrollment principles were applied at all stages of the development and implementation of ALX Preschool:

  • Family-Centered Focus on parent choice and voice.
  • Relationship-Based Leverage because relationships between partners are a cornerstone of ALX Preschool.
  • Equitable Eligibility and Enrollment mean all children have a fair and just opportunity to attend a quality preschool.
  • Accountable Fiscal Stewardship of federal, state, and local funds is foundational to serving the most children.

Joining as community partners in the ALX Preschool network are ACPS, Campagna Center, Child and Family Network Centers (CFNC), the City of Alexandria, Creative Play School, and Hopkins House.

“The ALX Preschool coordinated enrollment approach reflects the remarkable collaborative work taking place across our early childhood community,” said Kate Garvey, Director of the Department of Community and Health Services for the City. “At the heart of this work is the commitment to ensure that Alexandria families have full access to high-quality early childhood experiences. It is key to ensuring that all Alexandria’s children have a great start in life.”

“The invaluable collaboration and partnership among the ALX Preschool stakeholders reflects our shared commitment to fostering a nurturing environment for young children across the spectrum,” said ACPS Superintendent Dr. Melanie Kay-Wyatt. “I am proud that ACPS is an integral part of this early care and education network.”

Dr. Tammy Mann, President & CEO of Campagna Center, shared that the partners have worked collaboratively to align on a shared approach to curriculum and assessment. “This ensures common content to help children develop the skills needed for success in school, regardless of where the services are being provided,” she said. “Common screening tools also help identify children who may need early intervention services to address developmental delays. Campagna is thrilled to be part of ALX Preschool given its commitment to high-quality learning experiences.”

Creative Play School offers child care and early childhood education at two centers in Alexandria. “We are excited to partner with ALX Preschool because we are committed to ensuring that Alexandria’s children have high-quality preschool experiences so they can reach their full potential,” said owner and founder Diane Smalley. She added that parents needing support will have access to community services as part of this new network.

The Child & Family Network Centers provide high-quality multilingual early education services. The organization is thrilled that ALX Preschool streamlines the preschool enrollment process for busy, time-crunched parents and gives them access to options and information. “Parents truly want the best possible education for their children,” said CFNC’s Executive Director, Barbara McLaughlin. “The simplified enrollment application through ALX Preschool allows them to achieve that goal with much less effort.”

  1. Glenn Hopkins, President/CEO of Hopkins House, declared that deciding to be a partner was a no-brainer. “Hopkins House is keenly aware of the struggle that working parents face in finding and securing safe, affordable child care in Alexandria,” he said. “ALX Preschool is the culmination of years of working with our local childcare partners to realize our city’s vision of a coordinated enrollment process. We are delighted to have finally arrived at having a single source of reliable information and help about childcare in Alexandria.”

The ALX Preschool and Family Resource Center is at 4850 Mark Center Drive. The DCHS Enrollment Coordinator will lead a team of registrars under Child Care Assistance Supervisor Miguel Hernandez Concepcion.

Watch for a QR code and application details about ALX Preschool in April.

ICYMI: Registration Open for Alexandria Summer Camps Feb. 21




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