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 start by addressing 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 is amplifying 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, are supporting efforts to rethink and rebuild our early care and education system in a way that reflects the post-COVID world and centers racial and ethnic equity.

This strategy requires a focus on building capacity for large-scale policy and system-level interventions, including:

  • Enhancing the advocacy capacity of local and statewide early childhood organizations and networks to promote equitable early childhood systems.
  • Supporting innovation, qualitative and quantitative research, and systems analysis to help the field determine how the early childhood systems should adapt and rebuild moving forward.
  • Providing resources to organizations to broaden the role of parents and local communities most impacted by inequities in the development, implementation, and reform of early childhood strategies.

More on this Issue

Contact Us

Rob Thompson
Director, Early Childhood



Current Grant Opportunities

  • Supporting Grassroots Efforts to Promote Equitable Early Childhood Systems (Apoyo a los Esfuerzos de Base para Promover Sistemas Equitativos de la Primera Infancia)

Our Blog Posts Related to Early Childhood

  • Spotlight on Early Childhood Education
  • Confronting Suspensions and Expulsions in Early Childhood

Foundation Supports COVID-19 Child Care Relief Fund

The CCSA COVID-19 Relief Fund received a $100,000 contribution from Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina Foundation to support North Carolina’s child care programs. The Fund is a collaborative effort of Child Care Services Association (CCSA), the statewide Smart Start network, and CCR&Rs. Every dollar donated goes directly back into child care programs and families in our community.

New York Times Op-ed: Say Hello to That New Spin Studio and Goodbye to Your Child Care

We’ve long failed to fund the child care sector like the public good that it is. Now it’s on the brink of collapse.
By Lauren Birchfield Kennedy and Katie Mayshak