McAuliffe sets up boards to address children’s issues in Virginia.

Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D) on Monday unveiled two efforts to develop and implement ways to help children in Virginia overcome barriers to education, health care and housing.

The Children’s Cabinet, to be co-chaired by Secretary of Education Anne Holton and Secretary of Health and Human Resources Bill Hazel, will focus on all aspects of a young person’s health, safety and well-being up to age 21, the governor’s office said.

A program of the cabinet called the Commonwealth Council on Childhood Success will have a more narrow mission: improving access to pre-kindergarten, education, nutrition and health care from birth to third grade. It will be led by Lt. Gov. Ralph Northam (D), who is a full-time pediatric neurologist in Norfolk.

Both boards, which McAuliffe formed by executive order, must submit annual reports to the governor each June 1. They will not have dedicated budgets or staff, but will instead draw from existing state agencies.

“Children are the Commonwealth’s most important resource, and it is critical that we provide them with the tools and resources they need to thrive in a 21st-century economy,” McAuliffe said. “Both the Children’s Cabinet and the Commonwealth Council on Childhood Success will help ensure that Virginia’s children live happy and productive lives.”

Northam, Secretary of Public Safety Brian Moran, Secretary of Commerce and Trade Maurice Jones and the First Lady Dorothy McAuliffe will also sit on the Children’s Cabinet. Members of the Council have not yet been named.

Northam said he’ll tap the private and nonprofit worlds for their expertise.

“The first few years of a child’s life are undoubtedly some of the most critical to their health and education,” Northam said. “Their brains develop quickly and their life experiences have a significant impact on their health, development, and readiness to succeed academically.”

Jenna Portnoy covers Virginia politics for The Washington Post.
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