Early Childhood

Our goal within this focus area is that every young child (ages 0-5) has the opportunity and resources to be healthy and well-prepared for success in school, work, and life.

Overall Perspective

Prenatal and early childhood years are the foundation for the rest of our lives, with ripple effects on health, education, and even economic outcomes. That’s why early childhood interventions have the unique potential to reduce barriers to health and future opportunity for all children, particularly young children of color. Indeed, research shows that investing in early child development is a proven strategy for promoting equitable outcomes and for producing long-term benefits to both individuals and society, in the form of better health, higher graduation rates, lower incarceration rates, and a stronger ability to find and keep employment.

Strategic Approach and Current Focus 

If we want to ensure every young child has the opportunity and resources to thrive, then we must address the racial, ethnic, and geographic inequities that exist among young children. COVID-19 has amplified these structural inequities and weaknesses in our state’s early care and education system, including lack of access for children from lower income families, systemic bias against homebased care, low pay for the workforce, and a business model that is unsustainable.

In response, we are focused on transforming the early care and education system in North Carolina so that it meets the needs of the state’s diverse population of children and families, including:

  • Supporting the development of a broad coalition working toward equity in the systems of early childhood.
  • Identifying and supporting work to address racial inequities in preschool suspensions, expulsions, and other exclusionary practices.
  • Identifying and supporting work to strengthen the early care and education workforce.

A few examples of recent work, includes:

In More Detail

View our Early Childhood Dashboard for a visual summary of key components of our work in this focus area.

More on this Issue

Contact Us

Rob Thompson
Director, Early Childhood