Skip to content

EdNC. Essential education news. Important stories. Your voice.

Early Bird

Understanding your local child care network

We'd love to hear from you.

Liz Bell/EducationNC

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.


Happy new year, Early Bird readers! In 2023, you’ll be hearing from Katie Dukes, EdNC’s early childhood policy analyst, a lot more in Early Bird. Lucky you! A message from Katie on her new guide to local child care landscapes:

Here on EdNC’s early care and education team, we ask a lot of questions about the availability of high-quality child care across the state. And sometimes it’s hard to find the answers we’re looking for. But there’s a resource that the Division of Child Development and Early Education releases every month that can help — the Child Care Statistical Report.

At almost 900 pages, the report can be a little… intimidating. That’s why we’ve created a guide to help anyone find the information they’re looking for. 

Maybe you’re a local leader looking for opportunities to support children, families, and workers. You might be interested in how many licensed sites already exist in your county and what age children they serve.

Maybe you’re a provider looking to open a home-based site (also known as a “family child care home”). You can see who else has already done that in your area and what type of license they have. 

Maybe you’re a soon-to-be parent looking for nearby sites that provide licensed infant and toddler care. You can see what your options are — though if you live in Polk or Hyde counties, there are none.

Whoever you are, our EdExplainer: How to use the Child Care Statistical Report can help you navigate learning about the early care and education landscape anywhere in the state. 

And we’d love to hear what you find! For example, we noticed that in Pasquotank County’s December 2022 report, there are no 5-star licensed family child care homes. This raises questions about the types of barriers home-based care providers may face during licensing. 

What can you learn about licensed child care in your county? Email me your notable finds via [email protected], or tweet them to us via @kneldukes and @EducationNC on Twitter.

Below, don’t miss Head Start and Early Head Start research and a piece on what Medicaid expansion would mean for the early childhood workforce.

Early Bird reads: What we’re writing

Why child care matters for economic development

EdNC Editor-in-Chief Mebane Rash dives into an effort from Wilkes Community College to create economic development and mobility in its community.

A key part of doing so? Figuring out how to provide access to high-quality child care for working parents.

“With supports for student success in place and a nonprofit connecting graduates to work opportunities and innovative office spaces that are revitalizing downtowns, leaders in Wilkes County turned their attention to child care,” Rash writes.

“‘Improving access, quality, and affordability of child care in Wilkes County is both a social and economic imperative,’ said Craig DeLucia, CEO of the Herring Family Foundation, in a press release.”

North Carolina’s economic future ‘inextricably linked’ to child care, report says

In case you missed it, the North Carolina Early Childhood Foundation released a report at the end of last year that shows how much early care and education matters for families’ economic wellbeing — as well as the entire state’s.

This Thursday, the foundation will host a webinar on the report with the report’s author, policymakers, a parent, a child care provider, and other experts. You can register here to join us.

Your take, for goodness sake: EdNC perspectives

Perspective | To boost early care and education in North Carolina, expand Medicaid

A 2015 study found one in five child care teachers lacked health insurance.

“That lack of benefits — in one of our state’s most important professions — makes it incredibly hard to recruit and retain the workforce we need to educate and care for our young children in North Carolina,” writes Devonya Govan-Hunt, director of the Charlotte affiliate of the Black Child Development Institute.

“Early educators are building the foundations of all learning for young children — literally building brains — and at the same time, they so often have no way to cope with their own ailments.”

In other early learning news: What I’m reading

Research & Resources: Let's talk Head Start (and early Head Start) in NC

The National Institute for Early Education Research found wide variation in children’s access to federal programs Head Start and Early Head Start across different states in a report at the end of last year. The institute just released state profiles. Here’s what stuck out to me about North Carolina:

  • There was an understandable decline in enrollment of children from 2018-19 to 2020-21: 6,002 fewer children in Head Start and 815 fewer children in Early Head Start. For Head Start, that’s a 31% decrease compared with a 33% decrease nationally. For Early Head Start, that’s a 13% decrease compared with a 9% decrease nationally.
  • Head Start enrollment had already been declining over the last decade. In 2011-12, there were 21,257 children enrolled, compared with 19,199 children in 2018-19.
  • On the other hand, Early Head Start enrollment has slightly increased in the last 10 years: from 4,066 children in 2011-12 to 5,959 in 2018-19.
  • North Carolina is in the bottom 17 states when it comes to Head Start funding per child, adjusted for states’ cost of living. We’re at $9,457 compared to the national average of $11,065.
  • Things are different with Early Head Start, though. North Carolina ranks 8th highest in per-child spending for that program at $16,954, above the national average of $16,583.

There’s lots more to explore in this lengthy report, including enrollment by race and ethnicity, state variation, and child poverty trends. I’m wondering why there’s such a difference in our spending and enrollment, relative to other states, between Head Start and Early Head Start. Let me know if you have ideas, and I’ll follow up.


Liz Bell

Liz Bell is the early childhood reporter for EducationNC.