Kids’ First Years in Alexandria

Kids’ First Years in Alexandria

In Alexandria, all children deserve the same chance for a happy, healthy start in life. That’s the overarching conviction guiding Kids’ First Years, a collective impact initiative dedicated to being the unified voice for organizations in Alexandria that collaborate to provide support, care and education for the city’s young children and their families.

Formerly operating as Smart Beginnings Alexandria, Kids’ First Years is excited to kickoff 2022 with a new name and a renewed commitment to build an equitable and accessible early care and education system in Alexandria.  

“We work in close partnership with about 20 local organizations and agencies to ensure that children and families have access to the things they need and that our community is positioned to sustain and enhance those supports,” said Michelle Smith Howard, Executive Director of Kids’ First Years. “Also, we have strong relationships with Alexandria preschools and child care centers, elementary schools, libraries, faith-based entities and many more, so we have created an extensive network of early childhood stakeholders in the city.”

Smith Howard also noted that Kids’ First Years has embraced The Basics, which are five simple yet powerful things that parents, caregivers and child care providers can do to help children thrive in the early years: 

  • Maximize Love, Manage Stress

  • Talk, Sing, and Point

  • Count, Group, and Compare

  • Explore through Movement and Play

  • Read and Discuss Stories

“These evidence-based parenting and care-giving principles can benefit children from all backgrounds and across the spectrum of socio-economic factors,” she said. “There’s even a free text messaging component where parents can get two texts per week on their phone with an easy and fun suggested activity tied to one of The Basics principles.” 

Kids’ First Years can provide Spanish, Arabic and Amharic translations for many of the organization’s materials and a translation line can be offered for phone calls when needed. In addition, parents and early childhood stakeholders can sign up to receive a regular newsletter with helpful tips and updates about issues to support the area’s littlest learners.

Kids’ First Years aims to be a trusted resource for information about child care and early childhood education in the City of Alexandria. “Whenever parents or anyone in our community has a need or question related to early childhood care or education, Kids’ First Years can help them navigate to the right preschool partner or connect them quickly to the appropriate services and supports,” Smith Howard said. 

The partner organizations working with Kids’ First Years are: ACT for Alexandria, Alexandria City Public Schools, Alexandria Health Department, ALIVE!, Bruhn-Morris Family Foundation, The Campagna Center, Center for Alexandria’s Children, Child and Family Network Centers, Alexandria Department of Community & Human Services, City of Alexandria, Creative Play School, Hopkins House, Neighborhood Health and Northern Virginia Family Services.

For more information about Kids’ First Years as well as to sign up for the Kids’ First Years newsletter and the free text messaging component of The Basics, visit or follow Kids’ First Years on Facebook