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Early Bird

Early Bird Learning Adventures: The return home

What North Carolina can learn from other states

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. 

A classroom the Early Bird team visited at Mission Grammar School in Boston.

If you’ve been following the Early Bird team for the last few months, you know we’ve been traveling across the country to learn from states that are leading the way in early childhood policy and investment.

We’ve traveled more than 13,000 miles — by planes, trains, cars, and boats — from Salem, MA to Salem, OR.

Katie and Liz take a water taxi across Boston Harbor from the airport.

Back home in North Carolina, we spoke with more than a dozen experts about what we learned. They helped us understand how the strategies we identified on our Learning Adventures could work in the context of our beloved home state. Here’s what we found.

Advocacy from the business community, grassroots organizing, streamlining governance, and identifying/creating new funding streams were all essential strategies in Michigan, Massachusetts, Vermont, Oregon, and New Mexico.

Experts told EdNC that North Carolina is well-positioned to adopt these strategies, and reclaim our position as a leader in early childhood policy and investment.

With the funding cliff looming this summer, the time is now.

One thing that kept coming up in the states we visited was the question of how to recruit, retain, and better compensate the early childhood workforce. Some states had strategies in place to work on addressing these issues, but no one had it all figured out yet. And several told us that’s their next focus. Maybe this is an opportunity for North Carolina to be an innovator?

Katie and Liz recreate an iconic scene from Good Will Hunting in Boston Common (at Liz’s insistence).

We’ll be watching alongside all of you to see what happens this year…

In the meantime, check out Liz’s article on the specifics of New Mexico’s early childhood journey, and my article about outdoor learning environments at sites supported by Halifax County Smart Start.

We’re excited to be back in our home state, and we’re ready to come see all of the amazing things y’all are doing for our littlest learners this year!


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Chirp! Chirp! Opportunities to share your voice

Are you interested in having Liz and I come to your community and share more about what we learned? Let us know about any upcoming convenings we could join, or tables we should sit at!

The big picture for little kids

Taking flight! Opportunities to spread your wings

  • 2024 National Early Childhood Education Workforce Convening - From The T.E.A.C.H. Early Childhood® National Center

    From the organizers: This annual event brings together professionals from across the country who are working on advocacy, policy, funding, strategy development and systems building toward implementation and sustainability of programs, as well as strategies and funding that support early education systems nationally and in states and communities across the country. The Convening offers two days of workshops, a keynote presentation, plenary session, and a networking reception. 

    The convening will take place April 10-11, 2024 in Chapel Hill. Registration is due by March 15, but Early Bird rates are available through January 31.

  • Webinar - Evicting Children: How babies bear the brunt of the nation's housing crisis and what we can do about it - From SchoolHouse Connection

    From the organizers: A study published in October 2023 revealed that Americans who are most at risk of eviction are babies and toddlers. These findings are consistent with data showing that the person who is most likely to stay in a homeless shelter in the U.S. is an infant under the age of one. Despite the disproportionate risks of homelessness faced by infants, toddlers, and school-age children, and the harmful impact of homelessness on their health, development, and future learning, these children are invisible to the public, policymakers, housing/homelessness system, and, all too often, even to the early childhood programs, and public schools that could mitigate the impact of homelessness on child development and connect families to housing and services. This webinar will review the study’s findings and examine its implications for policies and practices to stabilize children, youth, and families. In addition, we’ll learn from practitioners about efforts to prevent evictions among families and respond to the needs of all family members when evictions do occur. Finally, we’ll look at policy reforms that can prevent and mitigate harm.

    The webinar will take place on Tuesday, January 30, 3-4:15pm.

  • Preparing for tax season webinars - From Home Grown

    From the organizers: Home Grown, in collaboration with Civitas Strategies, will be hosting webinars for home-based child care providers on how to prepare for tax season. The webinars will review key topics including: identifying a tax preparer, understanding the documents you need for your taxes, and what to do to start getting ready for next year. 

    The English webinar will be held on January 30 at 6pm. The Spanish webinar will be held on February 6 at 6pm (registrarse para español).

Katie Dukes

Katie Dukes is a policy analyst at EdNC.