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Early Bird

How one home-based educator is bracing for the child care funding cliff

Meet Shay Jackson

Early Bird readers, hello again. Newcomers, welcome! If you were forwarded this email, you can sign up here to receive it every two weeks, and join our conversation on issues facing North Carolina’s young children and those who support them. If you’re already a subscriber, please help us reach more people by sharing this with your friends and co-workers interested in early childhood education. 

Shay Jackson and the students of Modern Early Learning Academy pose during outside time. Liz Bell/EducationNC

It’s June y’all, and the long-looming financial cliff is now three weeks away. On June 30, the federal funding that stabilized early childhood care and education during the pandemic will run out — unless we see a last-minute intervention from the General Assembly. We’re feeling that pressure, and we know you’re feeling it too. 

That includes Shay Jackson, a 5-star licensed family child care provider in Forsyth County. Liz wrote about Shay’s experience in an article that I just loved this week. 

After working as an assistant child care teacher, a lead teacher, a Head Start coordinator, a family advocate, a social worker in public schools, and for nonprofits and the Durham Partnership for Children, Shay opened Modern Early Learning Academy at her Winston-Salem home in 2022.

As Liz wrote:

Family child care providers are balancing several roles. They are the sole provider not only of care and education, but of food, transportation, and family support services. They are also administrators, making their own curriculum and assessment choices, and keeping up with licensing and reporting responsibilities. And they are business owners, managing the finances of their programs and collecting payments from families.

“That is the challenge — wearing all those different hats and having to manage all of that,” Jackson said. “Instead of comparing family child care providers to teachers, we need to be compared to directors.”

Now Shay Jackson is trying to figure out what she’ll do when she goes over the cliff: “I definitely don’t want to increase those prices, because it’s not fair to my families. I do feel like if I just add, like one or two kids for my second shifts, maybe do Uber Eats or something like that, maybe that will help kind of supplement … I don’t know. I wish I had an answer. I’m gonna try to stay in as long as I possibly can. I’m gonna try to maintain.”

Betsy Rodriguez, owner of KinderMission Academy in Guilford County, is also bracing herself for the cliff. I visited her center in High Point this week as it prepares to close its doors. Betsy is still figuring out what the future holds for her program, its diverse team of teachers, and the students and families they serve. I hope to bring you more about her story in the coming weeks as she figures out her next steps.

In the meantime, for those of you out there with the financial capacity to support the work of EdNC’s early childhood team, please consider donating. If now is not the time to support us financially, please consider taking our survey instead; tell EdNC what’s important to you as we plan our work for the next year. Either way, we’ll be here with you as the cliff approaches — and on the other side. 

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Chirp! Chirp! Opportunities to share your voice

How are you expecting the end of stabilization funds to impact you? Reply to this email to share your story with us.

The big picture for little kids

Legislative Updates

Democratic leaders from both the House and Senate recently held a news conference calling for child care investment in this year’s North Carolina budget.

“Increasingly, adequate access to these critical facilities is getting harder and harder for North Carolina families to find,” said Sen. Dan Blue, D-Wake. “Child care is not just a convenience, it’s a foundational issue.”

Blue and Rep. Robert Reives, D-Chatham, called on legislators in their ongoing short session to extend stabilization grants.

“That money has been a lifeline for working families and the business community, ensuring that child care centers can continue to function and that working parents can make it work,” Reives said. “But with that money ending now, the state needs to step up and bridge the divide.”

Gov. Roy Cooper has been making his own calls for additional funding for early childhood education, visiting Creative Minds Preschool in Wilmington and Academically Based Child in Raleigh last week. With three weeks remaining before stabilization funds run out, the General Assembly has little time to act.

Taking flight! Opportunities to spread your wings

  • Early Efforts Webinar | Impact of State Policies on Family Resources - From Hunt Institute

    From the organizer: June 17, 2024 at 1:00 PM

    State policies have a significant impact on the amount of resources available to a young family. States’ policy choices lead to significant variation across states, leading to young families in D.C. and New Jersey having access to twice the resources as families in Georgia and Tennessee. Learn about which policies have the greatest impact on families, and how investments in the early years return big dividends.
  • Understanding Reflective Supervision and It’s Value - From NCIMHA

    From the organizers: June 13, 2024 at 12:00 PM

    Participants will get a brief overview of what reflective supervision/consultation practice is and what research tells us about its value to professionals and programs supporting infants, toddlers, young children and those that care for them. Participants will enjoy a panel discussion that includes multi-disciplinary perspectives on the use and value of reflective supervision/consultation within multiple roles and programs.

  • Fostering Integration in Early Childhood Settings: Implications for Policy - From Learning Policy Institute

    From the organizers: June 18, 2024 at 2:30 PM

    Research shows that racially, ethnically, and socioeconomically integrated learning environments can lead to academic and social benefits for children. 

    This webinar will illuminate the important, but often overlooked, problem of segregation in ECE settings. It will identify strategies that policymakers and administrators can use to foster integration, including establishing universal ECE programs, braiding public funding, allowing tuition-paying families to enroll in public programs, attracting families across neighborhoods or district boundaries, and creating two-way dual language immersion programs. Presenters will describe examples of cities and states putting these strategies into action.

Katie Dukes

Katie Dukes is a policy analyst at EdNC.