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Gov. Cooper announces Building Bright Futures Apprenticeship Program, recognizes Child Care Provider Appreciation Day

This week, Governor Roy Cooper and North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services (NCDHHS) Secretary Kody Kinsley visited Little People Preschool in Raleigh and celebrated Child Care Provider Appreciation Day. As a part of the visit, they discussed the importance of investing in quality child care options for North Carolina’s workforce.

Governor Cooper also announced the Building Bright Futures (BBF) early childhood education pre-apprenticeship-to-apprenticeship program. This program is a partnership between The North Carolina Business Committee for Education (NCBCE) and the NCDHHS Division of Child Development and Early Education (DCDEE) to pilot new pathways to entering the early childhood profession. BBF creates supportive pathways for high school and postsecondary students to earn credentials, while also obtaining hands-on, work-based learning experiences, in the early childhood education field.

“North Carolina’s children, families and businesses need more early childhood education and care options, and Building Bright Futures is an innovative solution to increase access,” said Governor Roy Cooper. “By supporting and encouraging students to enter the early childhood profession, we’ll help make sure more families and employers have the quality child care they need to thrive.”

“We need continued investments in the child care workforce to give parents the security they need and children the high-quality early learning that is critical for their success in school and life,” said Health and Human Services Secretary Kody H. Kinsley. “Programs like Building Bright Futures leverage the state’s commitment to building a high-quality early care and learning network that helps families raise capable children and build a stronger North Carolina.”

“DCDEE’s support of Building Bright Futures is an investment in the future early care and learning workforce that will give children what they need to succeed, parents the confidence to go back to work, and the state a highly productive present and future workforce,” said Ariel S. Ford, Director of the NCDHHS Division of Child Development and Early Education (DCDEE).

North Carolina’s business communities need accessible child care so that workers can continue to remain a part of a strong workforce. Apprenticeship programs are vital to the state’s economic success.

“Building Bright Futures meets a critical need in our state’s workforce,” stated Leslie Walden, Vice President, Regional Public Affairs for Fidelity Investments, and NCBCE’s Board of Directors Chair. “This program will not only elevate the early childhood education profession, but also have a lasting impact on our children, our educators, and our workforce as a whole.”

BBF offers a variety of benefits to participating early child care providers and students including mentorship, professional development, career awareness, and other enrichment activities. Further, the program provides monetary support for transportation, books, and materials, a 50% wage match reimbursement to providers for work-based learning hours, and other items and services. NCBCE is partnering with local school districts, community colleges, and child care providers to inform best practices for scaling BBF across the state. NCBCE is also working closely with ApprenticeshipNC to register apprentices for this initiative.

BBF mirrors existing work in McDowell County, where they have had their own pre-apprenticeship programsince November 2021. BBF is funded by the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA). ARPA, in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, provides state and local governments with monetary support for recovery efforts.

The North Carolina Business Committee for Education (NCBCE) is a business-led, education non-profit (501-c3) that operates out of the Office of the Governor. Since 1983, NCBCE has provided a critical link between North Carolina business leaders and the state’s education decision-makers, helping to create connections between the education curriculum and the overall work readiness of people across the state.

BBF is currently recruiting child care providers, students, local school districts, community colleges, and other community partners to participate in the program. Those who are interested are encouraged to contact Morgan Ford, Program Director, at Learn more about the Building Bright Futures program here.

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