With its noteworthy public schools and libraries, and park and recreation center amenities, families will find there are many ways to keep young minds and bodies active. There are also city services that provide support to children and their families and work to ensure the safety of every child. Whether you’re new to the city or new to parenthood, here are some highlights geared toward the young person in your life.
Setting a foundation for the future
There are 86 public schools in Virginia Beach, making it the largest school division in Hampton Roads. Fully accredited, Virginia Beach City Public Schools outperforms other divisions across the state and country on key academic indicators. As of March 2021, K-12 enrollment was 63,675, and in 2020 the on-time graduation rate was a record-high of 94.2% and the dropout rate was a record low of 2.9%. (The city outperformed Virginia's rates of 92.3% and 5.1%, respectively.)
The division strives to put students first and aims to empower each one to become a lifelong learner who is a responsible, productive and engaged citizen within the global community.
To learn more about Virginia Beach Public Schools, such as its academic programs, course guides, its efforts toward diversity, equality and inclusion, and more, visit the division website at www.vbschools.com or call (757) 263-1000.
Connect with VBCPS through social media by following @vbschools on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and YouTube, and read more about the division's accomplishments by reading its blog, The Core, or recent news releases.
Lifelong learning outside of the classroom
Storytime classes are designed for children ages 6 months to 5 years old and their caregivers. The five-week long sessions provide fun early learning activities that support play-based learning, whole-child development and foster early literacy and social-emotional skills. Participants share books, songs and action rhymes, as well as practice early numeracy and engage in fine motor skill activities, establishing a foundation of early literacy that children can build upon in their school-age years.
A variety of classes and programs are also offered to K-12 students in a range of topics, including art, science, technology, history and more. And thanks to a partnership with Virginia Beach City Public Schools, students have free access to VBPL’s digital public library.
In addition, seasonal reading challenges and Battle of the Books help make reading fun – and a little competitive. For more information, contact Virginia Beach Public Library at (757) 385-0150 or email@example.com. You can also follow the library on social media: @VaBeachPublicLibrary (Facebook) and @VBPLibrary (Twitter and Instagram).
Active and outdoors
Virginia Beach is home to 293 parks and park facilities, encompassing over 7,000 acres. Each park is unique and offers something for everyone, from wide open spaces to playgrounds, picnic shelters and ballfields. Here are just a few highlights:
- Mount Trashmore at 310 Edwin Drive is the city’s most popular park and its playgrounds and skate park are of particular interest to young people.
- Woodstock Skate Park at 5709 Providence Road is one of the city’s newest outdoor amenities. This action-packed, 30-000-square-foot, concrete urban skate plaza features a well-rounded mix of transitional and street elements for the skater in your life.
- JT's Grommet Island Beach Park and Playground at 100 2nd St. is the country’s first 100% accessible oceanfront park. It features wheelchair-accessible entrances and poured-in-place playground surfacing, raised sand tables for sandcastle building at an accessible height, a sensory board for children who are autistic and visually impaired, a sway boat and much more.
The city also offers sports leagues for children 10 to 18 through community recreation associations working in conjunction with Park & Recreation’s division of Sports Management/Athletics. From football to baseball, basketball to volleyball, there are a variety of leagues that may be available for your child to participate in, depending on what part of the city you live in.
Registration fees are required, and players must attend school (K-12) to be eligible. High school varsity and junior varsity players are not eligible for the same community league sport. Contact Sports Management Athletic Leagues at (757) 385-0458 or cwathletics@VBgov.com.
The Department of Parks & Recreation offers fun programs, swim lessons and much more for children of all ages, as well as family-friendly events throughout the year. Call (757) 385-1100 or email fun@VBgov.com. Follow @VBParksRec on Twitter and Instagram and look for Virginia Beach Parks & Recreation on Facebook.
Services for children and families
The Child Care Subsidy program provides funding to enhance the quality, affordability and supply of child care available to Virginia's families. Parents or caretakers of a child/children younger than 13 who are working, receiving agency approved education/training or participating in Virginia's Initiative for Employment not Welfare or Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Employment & Training programs may qualify. To apply for services, visit www.commonhelp.virginia.gov or call the Child Care Department at (757) 385-3351 for more information.
To search for a child care vendor or for information on becoming a licensed vendor in Virginia, visit the state’s website, www.dss.virginia.gov, or call the Child Care Licensing division at (757) 491-3990.
The Child and Youth Behavioral Health division offers a range of services designed to help children and adolescents who are experiencing emotional difficulties, behavior problems and/or substance abuse. The goal of most treatment plans is to help children succeed while remaining with their family and in school.
Child and Youth Behavioral Services is located at 297 Independence Blvd., Pembroke 6 Building, Suite 300. Call (757) 385-0850 for more information.
Child Protective Services steps in when the city’s Human Services Department receives a report of suspected child abuse or neglect. Anyone may report a concern about the health or safety of a child and may do so anonymously. Some people such as doctors, teachers, and social workers are required to make a report within 24 hours if they have reason to suspect that something is wrong. Under the Virginia State law, an abused or neglected child is one who is younger than 18 whose parent or other person is responsible for their care:
- Causes, or threatens to cause, a physical or mental injury except for an accident
- Fails to provide adequate food, clothing, shelter, or medical care
- Abandons the child
- Fails to provide the kind of supervision necessary for the child's age or level of development
- Commits, or allows to be committed, any illegal sexual act involving the child (including incest, rape, fondling, indecent exposure, prostitution) or allows the child to be used in any sexually explicit visual material
The Adult & Family Services Division of the Department of Human Services will work, in partnership, with families and other community resources to identify specific behaviors and environmental conditions that need to change to prevent abuse or neglect and to provide a safe environment for children.
To report a suspected case of child abuse or neglect, call the Virginia Beach hotline at (757) 385-3400 or (800) 552-7096.
Collaborating for the benefit of early childhood development
Virginia Beach GrowSmart is a collaborative initiative designed to provide information and resources that parents, caregivers and early education teachers need to help young children succeed. It’s also a place where people can discover more about the City of Virginia Beach’s early learning efforts and ways to get involved.
Its vision is to ensure that all children are born healthy and enter kindergarten ready to learn. It aims to help children read proficiently through third grade so they can develop a strong foundation for success in school and in life.
GrowSmart’s programming runs the gamut from early education small business training to a series geared to providing high-quality training and career advancement opportunities to Virginia Beach early education professionals. Programs for families, adult caregivers and children include:
- LENA – A community program designed to help families learn how to increase conversation with their children during the first few years of life. Talking with babies is one of the most critical elements in their early brain development. Offerings like LENA Start, Home and Grow supports parents, caregivers and early childhood educators of infants and toddlers (0-36 months) to help strengthen their home and early care language environments.
- First Grade READS - A literacy tutoring program that pairs first grade readers with community volunteer tutors/mentors to help children become confident, successful readers. This program is a collaborative partnership with Virginia Beach City Public Schools.
- Read Across America Day – An annual community celebration held in March that kicks off National Reading Month and aims to foster a love of reading in children. City leaders, business professionals and community members visit Virginia Beach classrooms and participating children get a book to take home.
- Celebrating Children – An annual celebration held in April that honors Child Abuse Prevention Month and Month of the Military Child. The free event encourages families to get active together by participating in a fun run, as well as an opportunity to connect with community resources and enjoy live entertainment and amusements.
The Virginia Beach GrowSmart Foundation, formed in 2014, supports Virginia Beach GrowSmart's initiatives through advocacy and by securing public and private sector funding.
Virginia Beach GrowSmart collaborating partners include city employees from the departments of public health, human services, economic development, and parks and recreation, as well as Virginia Beach Public Library and Virginia Beach City Public Schools. Partnering organizations include the Foodbank of Southeastern Virginia & the Eastern Shore, Parish Day School, SquareOne, Mile High Kids Community Development, LENA, Anthem HealthKeepers Plus, Eastern Virginia Medical School, United Way of South Hampton Roads, Hampton Roads Shared Services Alliance, and family support centers at Naval Air Station Oceana and Joint Expeditionary Base Little Creek-Fort Story.
For more information, email firstname.lastname@example.org and follow on social @VBGrowSmart.