We invite early childhood education advocates to join us for a special one-hour webinar on Wednesday, Nov. 16 at 3 p.m. as members of the Forsyth County Early Childhood Education (ECE) Task Force discuss recommendations for creating a more unified and equitable system of pre-K in our community.
The webinar, which is being facilitated by EdNC’s Liz Bell, is in conjunction with the release of our ECE Task Force report. Webinar and Task Force Report details are available at www.prekpriority.org.
Community collaboration key to accessible, high-quality pre-K
In the spring of 2021, The Pre-K Priority, a local community collaborative in Forsyth County focused on expanding access to high-quality pre-K, invited Forsyth County, the City of Winston-Salem, and the Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools system to nominate members to serve on the Early Childhood Education Task Force. The ECE Task Force included 31 members representing families, public and independent pre-K stakeholders, health and human service organizations, and local community and business leaders.
The work of the task force built on findings from research conducted by The Pre-K Priority and others underscoring a two-pronged problem: families struggling to access high-quality pre-K options in our community as pre-K providers and educators struggle with financial viability. The urgency behind this problem also was clear — when families cannot access high-quality pre-K programs, their children miss out on critical opportunities to establish a strong foundation for their K-12 educational experiences. The barriers to pre-K are particularly significant for families with lower income, and include cost, availability, and proximity.
Throughout its one-year tenure, the ECE Task Force met regularly. Members shared expertise and experience and collaborated on recommendations for building a more equitable pre-K system in Forsyth County. The task force coalesced around four primary work groups: Quality & Education, Workforce Education & Training, Advocacy & Funding, and System & Administration.
The work groups collaborated alongside The Pre-K Priority to prioritize 19 recommendations and develop implementation strategies. These recommendations include providing: professional development courses and training for pre-K educators; individualized support and coaching for pre-K educators; consistent and equitable compensation for pre-K educators; trained family engagement specialists to support pre-K parents and families; coordinated integration of pre-K data from providers across Forsyth County; an evidence-based evaluation process; and the establishment of a partnership with the school district’s Office of Equity and Accountability to support sustainable equity practices.
As reported earlier this fall by EdNC, Smart Start of Forsyth County, a member of the ECE Task Force as well as The Pre-K Priority, applied for a grant from Forsyth County’s American Rescue Act Plan funding to support a two-year pilot implementation of the Task Force’s recommendations.
The work of the Early Childhood Education Task Force was only possible through the collaborative efforts of its members and those who are part of the ongoing efforts of The Pre-K Priority. By ensuring the work groups reflected not just the diversity of the pre-K landscape but also a diversity of lived experiences, the task force was able to generate recommendations that will have immediate, and hopefully long-term, impact on our community.
We hope you’ll join us as we share our findings on November 16.