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​Early Childhood Education Report Now Available

9/26/2017


preschool class
The Mecklenburg Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) heard a plan this afternoon on how to possibly expand access to early childhood education for thousands of County children. 

The “Creating Opportunity: An Action Plan for Early Childhood Education” report recommends a six year, phased-in, voluntary approach to help clear the child care subsidy waiting list and provide universal pre-k for all 4-year-old children. The plan also recommends implementing Early Care and Education (ECE) Workforce Talent Development and Retention strategies to ensure a pipeline of high-quality teachers for early learning classrooms. 

Recommendations also include creating an evaluation process to ensure accountability, continuous quality improvement, and for the BOCC to identify a long-term revenue source, which would be restricted to the expansion of the ECE initiative and evaluation. 

“The committee worked very hard for several months on the report,” said Dena R. Diorio, Mecklenburg County manager. “It provides a solid blueprint for us to move forward.”

The County allocated $6 million toward the expansion of the child care subsidy program in the FY18 budget. The funds allow children under age 5, currently on the subsidy waitlist, the chance to attend an early childhood program while their parents are working.
 
“Access to early childhood education is of critical importance to young children,” said Duke Energy chairman, president and CEO Lynn Good, who chairs the CELC. “If children are not able to build a solid foundation early, it has lifelong consequences. Getting it right in the beginning is more effective and less costly, and leads to a stronger community and a more prepared workforce.”

A report from the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Opportunity Task Force showed that children who receive early childhood education are more likely to graduate high school, attend college, increase their earning potential throughout their lifetime and decrease the risk of becoming involved in the criminal justice system.

The report highlights the following gaps: 
  • There are 22,107 children under age five who are eligible for a child care subsidy (working families below 200 percent of the federal poverty level).
  • Only 19 percent of income-eligible children receive assistance, and there are nearly as many children under age five on the child care subsidy waiting list (3,905) as those who receive assistance (4,164).
  • Less than one-third of 4-year-old children are currently participating in public pre-k (3,806 out of 12,000).

Feedback was collected from focus groups comprised of parents, child care providers, early childhood teaching staff, business leaders, the higher education community, on-site technical assistance specialists, and community advocates.

A county-wide poll was also conducted as part of the study. Nearly 90 percent of respondents expressed support for expanding access to high quality early care and education programs. The poll also found that respondents are willing to pay $10 or $20 more per month in taxes to fund these programs.

The BOCC launched the initiative in 2016 aligned with the adoption of a resolution supporting early childhood education for all children from birth to age five. 

Click below to download the: