River Valley Child Development Services was established in 1971 by Dr. Norma Gray as the Region III Early Childhood Demonstration Center, a component of a statewide system of regional early childhood centers. The purpose of the regional early childhood center was to demonstrate appropriate programs for preschool systems. In Region III, centers were set up in Cabell, Kanawha, Lincoln, Mason and Wayne counties in the first six months. As counties began operating their own kindergartens, the agency began branching out into other service areas.
The name of the agency was changed to River Valley Child Development Services in 1990.
In 1998, the High/Scope Educational Research Foundation, in collaboration with the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC), established the Program Recognition Project. Growing out of work by NAEYC’s Program Panel on Quality, Compensation, and Affordability, the project selected River Valley Child Development Services as one of ten “Exemplary Programs” chosen nationwide.
Today, River Valley Child Development Services serves over 12,000 people a year with a myriad of regional and statewide programs. These programs include Family Child Care Food Program (serving 5 counties); Child Care Resource and Referral agencies in Huntington, Logan, Charleston, Parkersburg and Clarksburg; WV Birth-to-Three System Regional Administrative Units located in Huntington and Charleston; and the statewide West Virginia Early Childhood Training Connections and Resources.
In addition, the number of River Valley Child Development Services staff has grown from 2 to more than 140 full-time employees. Over 74 percent of staff are college graduates. Staff continuously set goals to continue their professional growth. As part of their development, staff members are required to register on the WV STARS career pathway.