What happens when a room full of county commissioners, school board members, and early childhood practitioners spend the day diving deep into the data on preschool education with the state’s leading child development researchers? They start digging into how prekindergarten programs for four year olds push against the curve of community change.
On September 25, 2017, the Thinking Big for Small People group gathered in Chapel Hill for a day of training and reflection. The broader context for this gathering was the North Carolina General Assembly’s decision to increase funding for the state’s standard pre-K program delivered in each county, known as “NC Pre-K,” in its budget for the next two years. Program attendees spanned a continuum of familiarity with pre-K. Some came from communities with a great deal of curiosity, but no consensus about whether they would expand pre-K. Other communities had already set a goal for granting universal access to pre-K.
NC Pre-K is a state-funded pre-kindergarten program administered by the Division of Child Development and Early Education within the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services. The program serves eligible four-year-olds via classroom-based education in a variety of public and private settings governed by NC Child Care Rules. The state generally limits eligibility for NC Pre-K to children from families whose gross income is at or below 75 percent of North Carolina’s median income. In addition, up to 20 percent of the program can consist of children from families above the income ceiling who exhibit certain risk factors, such as limited English proficiency or a developmental disability. A later blog post will discuss the NC Pre-K program in more detail.
We launched ncIMPACT in 2017 to help public officials in North Carolina navigate critical policy challenges across a wide range of topics, including health, education, economic development, criminal justice, public finance, and the environment. As we planned this new initiative, we wanted to hear from practitioners and other citizens about the most vexing policy issues in their community and in the state as a whole, and what we could do to help. As such, in January 2017 we drafted an online survey and distributed it with the assistance of various peer associations and a targeted Twitter campaign. Over the course of two months, we received 154 responses to our survey. Please read on for an analysis of our results.
Welcome to the ncIMPACT blog, where we feature posts on the following topics:
- Community and Economic Development
- Criminal Justice
- Employment and Labor Market
- Environment and Natural Resources
- Public Finance
Would you like to become a guest blogger? Please contact us.