Virginia Beach GrowSmart exists to promote and improve the healthy development, school readiness, and reading proficiency of young children, ages 0-8. If you are a parent or caregiver of a young child, please visit our "Parents" page for resources and information on raising healthy, happy, and school-ready children.
In addition to providing resources for parents and families, GrowSmart offers programming to ensure the availability of high-quality early education and to promote reading proficiency by third grade. Follow the links below to learn more about these initiatives.
The Early Education Small Business Training Program was launched in 2010 as a partnership between Virginia Beach GrowSmart and the Hampton Roads Small Business Development Center (SBDC). The innovative program, which is led by SBDC business analyst Lauren Small, offers a unique approach to transforming and improving the businesses that provide childcare and early education to our future workforce. By assisting these small businesses in becoming financially stable and utilizing business best practices, the program ensures that the owner/operators can devote the majority of their time to quality service delivery and improved outcomes for children. For five consecutive years, the program has consistently reported strong outcomes. In 2014, the Hampton Roads SBDC won the Small Business Administration's "Small Business Development Center Excellence & Innovation Center" Award because of the ground-breaking work of The Early Education Small Business Training Program.
To date, the program has helped to create 45 local jobs and has impacted over 1,500 families in Virginia Beach alone. It has also been replicated in the surrounding cities of Chesapeake, Norfolk, and Suffolk. Virginia Beach's 2013 participants saw an average 28% increase in revenues and an average 26% increase in student enrollment. By combining sound business training with strategic quality improvement measures, the Early Education Small Business Training Program is revolutionizing the childcare and early education industry, one small business at a time.
If you are a childcare or preschool owner or director interested in applying for the program, please
download and complete an application.
For more information on the program, please contact Lauren Small at:
firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling (757) 664-2590.
Through its Provider Training Series, Teacher Scholarship Program, and Kindergarten Transition Professional Development Workshop Series, Virginia Beach GrowSmart provides high-quality training and career advancement opportunities to Virginia Beach early education professionals. These opportunities are available to all early educators working within Virginia Beach and are always free-of-charge to participants.
With funding from Virginia Beach GrowSmart, Children's Harbor presented a series of nine professional development workshops from September 2016 to June 2017. Topics included: positive discipline, improving communication with parents and staff, meeting the needs of children, and many more. The inaugural series in 2013-14 was attended by 336 teachers who represented 63 Virginia Beach childcare and preschool programs. The 2016-17 series begins on September 24. Download our 2016-17 course schedule.
If you are an early education provider working in the city of Virginia Beach, contact Children's Harbor to register for one of these FREE workshops! Call (757) 399-1337 or email:
While a quality learning environment and developmentally-appropriate curriculum are important to a child's early education, we know that it is the teacher who truly makes all the difference. Virginia Beach GrowSmart is committed to providing our childcare providers and early education teachers with opportunities to increase their knowledge, develop their skills and advance their careers with continuing education. GrowSmart awarded scholarships to eleven early education professionals in the 2014 spring semester and to fifteen professionals in the fall of 2014.
Any childcare or early education provider in Virginia Beach is invited to apply for a GrowSmart scholarship prior to the start of the fall and spring semester each academic year. Scholarships are awarded on a semester basis and cover all tuition and fees for qualifying classes. Scholarship recipients must pay for their own textbooks and supplies. For more information on our Teacher Scholarship Program or to apply for a scholarship for the upcoming semester, please
download and complete these forms. Refer to the cover sheet for submission instructions to the GrowSmart Office.
Making the transition from preschool to kindergarten is a BIG deal for kids and their parents. When preschools and elementary schools implement effective transition practices, kids and families can enjoy the excitement of starting kindergarten, without all of the anxiety. Virginia Beach GrowSmart offers multiple opportunities throughout the entire year for preschool and kindergarten teachers and administrators to work together to develop and implement transition plans that ease the fears of parents and kids and ensure a smooth transition to formal education. In 2013-14, GrowSmart hosted three separate kindergarten transition workshops that were attended by over 150 early education teachers and administrators. Topics included: STEM in the Early Childhood Classroom; Successful Transition Planning; and Social-Emotional Development in Young Children. As always, all training is provided free-of-charge. We will be kicking off our 2014-15 KG Transition PD Series in the fall and information will be available soon!
In addition to our Kindergarten Transition Professional Development Series, Virginia Beach GrowSmart has developed tools and resources to assist the teachers, parents, and caregivers of preschoolers in getting children ready for kindergarten. If you are an early education provider who works with preschoolers in Virginia Beach and would like more information on how to get involved in our Kindergarten Transition Program, please contact Virginia Beach GrowSmart:
email@example.comCall: (757) 385-0144
As a member of the national network of communities across the United States that have joined the
Campaign for Grade-Level Reading, Virginia Beach READS focuses on three pillars of success-proven to directly impact reading proficiency in the early grades. By emphasizing the importance of school readiness, prevention of summer learning loss, and on-time daily attendance, Virginia Beach READS is committed to moving the needle on third-grade reading. We know that children who do not read proficiently by third grade are four times more likely to drop out of school than skilled readers. With the implications to children, families, and our entire community, we are committed to preventing and addressing early reading failure. Learn more about our local campaign
The Lena Research Foundation has selected the City of Virginia Beach as one of 11 new communities to join LENA Start, a program that helps parents and caregivers of infants and toddlers (0-30 months) close the talk gap. Research shows that talking with babies is one of the most critical elements in their early brain development. LENA Start uses innovative "talk pedometer" technology with simple strategies offered in a series of efficient, engaging session s. Parents learn to use feedback from the LENA System™ about their home language environment and receive home parent materials, free books to build a home library and easy-to-use talking tips to increase interactive talk with their children.
The program will be one of the new offerings from GrowSmart, a division of Virginia Beach Economic Development, to ensure healthy development and school readiness for children in Virginia Beach. The program is a cost-share model with United Way of South Hampton Roads, LENA Research and the City of Virginia Beach. The program will be launched with GrowSmart collaborative partners such as Virginia Beach Public Libraries, Parks and Recreation, Early Intervention, Head Start, Military Fleet, and Family Services, Square One and other community-based organizations.
LENA Start takes a cost-effective and scalable approach by delivering LENA feedback and strategies to increase talk to groups of parents. A 3-month sequence of weekly 1-hour sessions builds family engagement and social capital as well as strengthens engagement between families and the community. Staffing needs are reduced, while the impact is increased. Effective implementation is ensured by delivering the program through videos and scripted instruction—and by continuous data feedback. The goal is to increase communication between parents and young children to bridge achievement and word gaps and increase children's school readiness.
"We will launch in October, and in the first year we will establish four parent groups that will reach 60 families," said Barb Lito, GrowSmart coordinator. "In year two, we will increase the number of parent groups to six for a reach of 90 - 100 families. This vital training unlocks a parent's power to build children's cognitive potential, and we are very pleased to be selected to share this successful model with our families."
About the LENA Research Foundation
The LENA Research Foundation is a 501(c)(3) public charity based in Boulder, Colorado. Its mission is to accelerate language development to improve the cognitive, social, and emotional health of children birth to five and close achievement gaps. Used by researchers and clinicians all over the world, the LENA System™ measures a child's language environment and provides vital feedback to parents and professionals in programs dedicated to close the language, learning, and opportunity gap for children. For more information on the foundation, please visit
Interested in a LENA Start class?
LENA Start is a free 10-week class to help you make a difference in your baby's life just through early talk and interaction. For each session, childcare and a meal/refreshments are provided to participants. Families will also receive shared reading books to add to at-home libraries. LENA Start is for parents and caregivers of children 0-3 years old.
LENA Start interest?
Each year, Virginia Beach GrowSmart sponsors a select number of childcare centers and preschools to participate in the Virginia Quality Rating and Improvement System (QRIS), or VQ. This voluntary rating and improvement system serve both as a consumer education tool to help families identify quality settings for their children and as a systems-level strategy aimed at raising the overall quality of early education throughout the Commonwealth. VQ measures quality in early childhood education settings beyond basic licensing standards that are required by law. Upon enrollment in VQ, a childcare or preschool site is awarded a quality level based on four nationally recognized quality standards and best practices:
After receiving a level rating, a site is able to progress through the levels at their own pace, based on their current level of quality. There is no fee to participate in Virginia Quality. Enjoy the benefits of Virginia Quality Participation:
There are currently 24 Virginia Quality providers in Virginia Beach. Find a local rated center or family day home
If you are a center director interested in participating in VQ, please contact Heather Kitis, Virginia Quality Eastern Region Program Coordinator at:
firstname.lastname@example.orgCall: (757) 822.5225
Ashley Smith, 13News Now
In 2015, GrowSmart took lead on planning Celebrating Children. This yearly event highlights the healthy development of children through physical activity. It's also been an event to honor Child Abuse Prevention Month and Month of the Military Child. In 2019, GrowSm art has collaborated with Virginia Beach Court Appoint Special Advocates (CASA) to merge Celebrating Children and Pinwheel Palooza. This partnership will extend the reach of both organizations and provide an even larger family-friendly fun event.
Celebrating Children & Pinwheel Palooza will be Saturday, April 27, 2019, at Mt. Trashmore Park. It is free and open to the public! GrowSmart and CASA have secured family resource exhibitors, children's activities, a photo booth, and more! There will be a Fun Run for children of all ages and families to participate in around the park. To pre-register please visit,
: Bringing together City, Schools, and the Community for
a common mission.
GrowSmart’s mission is to promote and improve the
healthy development, school readiness, and reading
proficiency of young children, ages 0-8, in Virginia
This site was designed to provide information and resources for Virginia Beach parents, caregivers,and teachers of young children, ages 0-8.
The site is also intended for our community stakeholders who wish to find out more about the City of Virginia Beach’s early learning efforts and how you can get involved.
Address: 4525 Main Street Suite 700 Virginia Beach, VA 23462
Phone: (757) 385-0144
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| The City of Virginia Beach