Early Bird readers, hello again. New arrivals, welcome! If you’ve received this email, you can sign up here to receive it every two weeks and join our conversation about the issues facing young children in North Carolina and those who support them. If you’re already a subscriber, help us reach more people by sharing this with your friends and colleagues interested in early childhood education.
In the past two weeks, two reports offer a clear picture of child care in North Carolina — and ways to make positive change for children and families. I’ve written about both: one on child care capacity by county and one on early years proposals with bipartisan momentum. Here’s what you need to know about the picture they paint:
- North Carolina child care providers only have room for about a quarter of the youngest children, ages 3 and under, whose parents work.
- Caring for this age group is particularly costly due to the number of people required – and particularly important in terms of child development and parental labor market participation.
- Proponents are worried about the cliff approaching programs next summer that are keeping many providers afloat. Staffing shortages and low teacher salaries are major concerns.
Ahead of the legislative session that begins this week, here are some ways public funds could make a difference, according to reports:
- More funding for the Child Care Subsidy Program to help more parents pay child care costs and to increase the per-child rate programs receive to reflect the true cost of high-school child care. quality.
- Grants and incentives for centers to open more infant/toddler spaces.
- Higher pay for the early childhood workforce, scholarships for teachers to return to school, and support to elevate the field of higher education institutions.
There are already tons of promising jobs in North Carolina. Go to pages 39-41 for a list of ongoing initiatives to strengthen and expand infant/toddler care from a report released last week by the NC Early Education Coalition and reviewed by the Child Care Services Association.
And check this (smaller) report of the Hunt-Lee Commission, a cross-sector, bipartisan group that did not set out to focus on early childhood. Instead, members wanted to find out what education policy issues they could agree on. Support for early care and learning emerged as an area of consensus. The report includes practices to build on, from North Carolina’s preschool and child care subsidy to home-visiting programs.
I’ll be covering the latest news from the legislative session and spending more time in eastern North Carolina. As always, please let us know your thoughts and questions.
Early Years at the GA: Updates from the Legislature
Gov. Roy Cooper released his proposed budget ahead of this week’s legislative session, which is expected to be short. The General Assembly has more money to spend than expected — a consensus revenue forecast released this month said the state will have a surplus of $4 billion for the current fiscal year and nearly $2 billion for the next.
With regard to early care and education, Cooper’s Plan understand :
- $41.9 million recurring for NC Pre-K, including increasing reimbursement rates by 19%. It would also increase the share that local agencies can use for administrative purposes from 6% to 10%.
- $10 million recurring to Smart Start, the national network of local early childhood agencies.
- $26 million recurring to expand the WAGE$ program, which provides salary supplements to early childhood teachers based on educational attainment, in all 100 counties.
- $18.5 million recurring to establish a child care subsidy floor. Learn more about what a child care subsidy floor would mean here and why the state is rethinking its model here.
- $10.25 million recurring to expand early intervention services.
Early Bird reads: What We Write
Here’s North Carolina’s child care capacity versus need, by county
Don’t miss the map embedded in this piece, where you can explore the capacity of each county’s child care network to meet the needs of younger children and their families.
As one might guess, there is wide variation in access to child care across the state. Rural areas have the least capacity compared to suburban and urban areas.
Polk, Alleghany, and Yancey have the least amount of space for infants and toddlers relative to the number of children with working parents (Polk’s programs have slots for 0% infants and toddlers whose parents work, Alleghany claimants have 5% and Yancey claimants have 6%). The counties with the highest capacity are: Chowan (with room for 62% of young children with working parents), Washington at 47%, and Robeson at 41%.
Early learning is at the center of a bipartisan effort to ‘build confidence and forward momentum’
“North Carolina has a long history of leadership in early childhood, from Smart Start to More at Four and now NC Pre-K, so it’s never surprising to see him part of the political conversation, but I think that the pandemic has also brought these issues very close to home for many North Carolina residents,” Sen. Mike Lee, R-New Hanover, said in a statement. Lee served on the Hunt-Lee Commission.
“Based on the data reviewed by the Commission, the importance of stable, high-quality early learning experiences and a high-quality workforce has never been more evident.”
Your View, For God’s Sake: EdNC Insights
prospect | Has having a child in America become an inaccessible privilege?
Sumera Syed, organizational equity manager at the North Carolina Early Childhood Foundation, notes that in 2021, more people died than were born in more than half of North Carolina counties.
“…a growing proportion of childless adults to quote financial reasons and economic instability as a deterrent to having children or choosing to have fewer,” Syed writes. “Having children in today’s society becomes a social privilege and inaccessible to many.
outlook | Children of ‘fractured society’ await legislative consensus
“The fate of the expanded child tax credit rests with Washington, where attention has been diverted to the Russian invasion of Ukraine and an impending Supreme Court ruling on abortion,” writes EdNC board member Ferrel Guillory in his weekly column.
“Meanwhile, in North Carolina, with its higher-than-expected revenue, an opportunity is at hand for Democrats and Republicans, business and education leaders, to forge consensus for the early childhood action during the legislative session which resumes next week.”
In other early learning news: What I’m reading
Research and resources: Let’s talk about vaccines for our youngest
When it comes to navigating COVID information and decisions, I have turned time and time again to Emily Oster, professor of economics at Brown University and author of books – and the ParentData newsletter — on parenthood.
More recently, his writings have helped us understand the confusing news surrounding vaccines for children under 5. Moderna has submitted an application to the FDA for clearance of its two-dose vaccine. Pfizer should soon do the same. The FDA could make the emergency authorization decision for Moderna’s vaccine as early as June 8.
What do we know about the company’s vaccine research? Side effects were mild or moderate in a trial involving 4,200 children aged 2 to 6 years and around 2,500 children aged six months to less than 2 years. The rate of children with fever was lower in these age groups than in 6 to 11 year olds. The study’s efficacy numbers “are consistent with what we see in older populations following Omicron,” Oster wrote: 44% in younger children, 37.5% in children from 2 to 6 years old.
Dr. Peter Marks, an FDA representative, shared in a brief released by U.S. Representative James Clyburn, D-South Carolina, that the FDA will not wait for Pfizer’s request and will not stick to a previous requirement of 50% vaccine efficacy. .
“This makes sense given that current vaccine efficacy against symptomatic infection in older children and adults is lower than this, even if protection against severe disease has been maintained,” Oster wrote.