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Early Bird

We're heading to other states to find solutions

Learning adventures, Facebook, and still no budget

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.

Students at Tiny Steps Learning Center in Lumberton. Liz Bell/EducationNC

This summer, I hit the road to document the challenges child care programs and their communities are facing, as well as efforts to solve those challenges. Local leaders told me cross-sector collaboration, increased compensation for the early childhood workforce, and business supports for existing and new providers are needed. They also said that means funding is needed — more funding than they can find on their own.

Advocates across the country are calling on the federal government to put another $16 billion into child care to help states avoid the looming cliff as American Rescue Plan funds expire at the end of this month. The National Women’s Law Center sent a letter to Congress last week that almost 1,000 advocates and providers signed, including a handful from North Carolina.

In the absence of federal help, policy experts have pointed to states to step up and fund early learning options for young children.

Unlike North Carolina, some states are doing just that, leading the way in early childhood policy and investment. We wanted to know what those states are finding — and what our state can learn.

Our first stop this week is Michigan. Read this piece I wrote back in the spring for an overview of that state’s Tri-Share program, which splits the cost of child care among employers, employees, and the state government.

A pilot based on this model made it into the North Carolina House budget proposal. It’s unclear whether the pilot will end up in the final state budget, which is still in negotiations between Republican leaders despite expectations of its release last week. But its inclusion in the bill means North Carolina policymakers have their eyes on Michigan as a potential source of inspiration.

We’ll be meeting with the leaders and participants of that program, seeing it in action, and asking about its biggest benefits and limitations. Join us on our new Early Bird Facebook group to follow our learning adventures, ask questions along the way, and join in conversation with us and other Early Bird readers.

Katie and I want the group to be a tool to more directly engage with you all: to gather story ideas, keep in touch, and create new connections. I hope to see you there.

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Chirp! Chirp! Opportunities to share your voice

What do you want to know about how early care and education works in other states? Reply to this email and let us know.

The big picture for little kids

Taking flight! Opportunities to spread your wings

  • Peer Exchange webinar - From United Way Worldwide, Ascend at the Aspen Institute, and the Campaign for Grade-Level Reading

    Hear from national experts September 19, 1-2:30 pm ET on two-generation approaches to reducing poverty. This conversation focuses on, you guessed it, early childhood education.

  • Early childhood workforce convening - From Child Care Services Association

    April 10-11, 2024, join fellow early childhood professionals from across the country in Chapel Hill to network, gain skills, and strengthen your understanding of the early childhood system across the country.

    CCSA is looking for individuals and organizations interested in leading workshops. You can find the link to submit a proposal at the above link.

  • An early childhood apprenticeship initiative - From Building Bright Futures

    Learn about how to get connected with this pilot initiative that’s offering support and resources to pre-apprentices and apprentices in the early childhood field.

  • A resource hub for advancing early childhood systems - From The Early Childhood Developmental Health Systems

    The Early Childhood Developmental Health Systems’ Evidence to Impact Center “supports states and communities to build equitable and family-centered early childhood systems that secure the health and well-being of young children and their families.” They’ve got all types of resources and research for professionals on the ground and advocates that are working to transform systems.

Liz Bell

Liz Bell is the early childhood reporter for EducationNC.