RALEIGH — The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services today announced a $4 million Preschool Development Grant that will help support children’s health and well-being, improve access to high-quality early care and learning for families across North Carolina, and invest in the state’s early care and learning workforce. NCDHHS will use the federal funding through the end of the year to enhance North Carolina’s Family Child Care Home (FCCH) network. This includes providing access to more professional training, tools to improve classroom curriculum and instruction and more family engagement opportunities for the FCCH workforce. This work will pilot new practices to improve the availability and quality of care for families served by the FCCH network.
“When we invest in high-quality early care and learning, we support young children’s healthy development and school success, make it possible for families to go to work, and strengthen our state’s economy,” said Susan Gale Perry, NCDHHS Chief Deputy Secretary for Opportunity and Well-Being. “Our top priority is supporting our child care workforce so that they have the skills, knowledge and compensation they need to stay in the field. The Preschool Development Grant will help us serve a critical part of that workforce better – family child care providers.”
Across North Carolina, 1,261 family child care homes provide essential benefits to families and care for about 8,000 children in a home setting. Not only do they offer flexible hours for families working non-traditional schedules, but they are also more likely to serve families of color, low-income families and families who experience difficulty accessing care through child care centers. This includes infants and toddlers, children with disabilities and children in rural areas. Quality has been and will continue to be a critical factor for FCCHs due to the individualized care provided and smaller, responsive learning environments. High-quality family child care, provided by licensed and highly skilled teachers and providers, has been found to improve children’s cognitive, social-emotional and physical development.
“Expanding support for family child care homes can provide access to the high-quality early childhood education that is critical for every child in North Carolina,” said Ariel Ford, NCDHHS Director of the Division of Child Development and Early Education. “We’re proud to receive this grant and look forward to investing in proven strategies and creating new solutions that allow us to continue boosting quality for all, while addressing the gaps in access and outcomes in our state.”
This new investment will enable NCDHHS — in partnership with the NC Family Child Care Home Advisory Council and national and state-level partners — to execute strategies across five core activities. They include: identifying needs, challenges and barriers faced by family child care homes; maximizing parent and family engagement opportunities; increasing access to quality early care and learning by strengthening the FCCH network; expanding professional development for providers; and developing best practices for increasing subsidies for providers to improve program quality.
Since 2018, North Carolina has leveraged more than $41 million in Preschool Development Grant funding to pilot and scale best practices across North Carolina’s early care and learning network. The nurse home visiting program has served 9,900 families with newborns; and 4,200 early childhood teachers gained access to professional development focused on formative assessment, family engagement and developmentally appropriate practices. The 2018 grant was also used to strengthen statewide early childhood data systems and public dashboards.
Preschool Development Grants build on North Carolina’s ongoing efforts to strengthen a high-quality early care and learning network that helps families raise healthy, capable children and builds a stronger North Carolina. Visit RaiseNC.nc.gov to learn how support and investment in North Carolina’s early care and learning network delivers positive outcomes for children, families and North Carolina’s economy.
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