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. These inequities are being compounded by COVID-19, which is disproportionately subjecting children of color and their families to social isolation, poverty, and illness. At the same time, COVID-19 has amplified structural inequities and weaknesses in our state’s early care and education system, including lack of access for poor children, 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 and expulsions.
  • Identifying and supporting work to strengthen the early care and education workforce.

A few examples of our current work, includes:

  • Supporting grassroots organizations led by, and serving, Black, Latino, American Indian, and other communities of color to advocate for early childhood systems change.
  • Funding two surveys of licensed child care providers statewide to understand their needs and viability in the wake of COVID-19. Results show a sector that was resilient in the face of COVID, yet facing a troubling future and a current staffing crisis it is struggling to overcome.
  • A multi-year grant to the Charlotte affiliate of the National Black Child Development Institute to develop and advance programmatic and policy-based approaches to address the rising rates of suspensions and expulsions in early childhood education that disproportionately affect Black children in North Carolina.

More on this Issue

Contact Us

Rob Thompson
Director, Early Childhood