The need for high-quality infant-toddler care and improved access to early childhood care and education (ECE) services were prominent themes outlined in North Carolina’s Early Childhood Action Plan, Birth through Five Needs Assessment and Strategic Plan. Activity 5: Improving Quality and Service Integration, Expanding Access and Developing New Programs highlights six activities to improve overall quality and service integration of infant-toddler services and expand access to families.
Activity 5.1: Improving the Quality of Infant and Toddler Environments
Continue partnership with Child Care Services Association (CCSA) for the piloting of the NC Babies First (NCB1) . This project will provide at least 60 teachers supporting 32 infant toddler classrooms intensive coaching, technical assistance and incentives with 90% of participating classrooms demonstrating improvement in infant-toddler classroom practices as measured by the Classroom Assessment Scoring System™. Ultimately, the quality of infant-toddler care will be improved for 750 children enrolled in the participating classrooms.
Activity 5.2: Statewide Infant Toddler Program Feasibility and Cost Study
Leveraging CCDF and PDG B-5 funding, DCDEE will conduct a feasibility and cost study of establishing a statewide high-quality infant-toddler program. This study will inform actions and next steps on creating and financing a largescale, high-quality early learning program for infants and toddlers, modeled on the NC Pre-K program and recognizing that 80 percent of the physical brain develops by age three and high-quality infant toddler care is the hardest to afford.
Activity 5.3: Early Intervention Access, Transition, and Family Engagement
DCDEE will partner with the NC Division of Public Health’s Early Intervention Services Branch to expanding access to teletherapy and increase family engagement. Teletherapy expansion will provide over 200 children with developmental disabilities in western NC services through teletherapy, such as occupational therapy, treatment for infant feeding disorders, and speech therapy. Translation services will be provided for Spanish-speaking children and families. Family engagement efforts will provide 18,000 families of children with disabilities access to materials, webinars and trainings to support their children’s transition into preschool, and will ensure 100% of Local Interagency Coordinating Councils include family representatives.
Activity 5.4: Increase Early Childhood Education Access for Families Experiencing Homelessness
Partner with North Carolina State University (NCSU) to employ a two-part strategy to ensure that young children experiencing homelessness in NC receive appropriate early childhood education services to promote their wellness and readiness to succeed in school.
- A comprehensive strategic plan for the state will be developed, under the leadership of Yay Babies – a state coalition established in 2015 by North Carolina State University to examine housing and early childhood systems, as well as, identify steps to close gaps and enhance those services.
- Family shelters and housing programs in 6 counties will pilot the use of the Early Childhood Self-Assessment Tool to better connect families experiencing homeless with needed services.
Activity 5.5: Universal Application and Enrollment Processes
Continue and expand the ongoing work for establishing a universal application and enrollment process to better coordinate service delivery and to increase families’ access to early childhood education programs and resources. In alignment to state-wide transition efforts in Activity 4.2: Transition to Kindergarten, support will be provided to local communities as they develop a common application and enrollment process for early childhood education programs serving four-year old children – not only supporting families as they enroll in early care and education services, but connecting them services that effectively meet the developmental needs of their child. Ultimately, participating counties will create a common application and enrollment process, receiving targeted mentorship, training and support.
Activity 5.6: Alternative Market Rate Model
DCDEE will identify a partner to conduct an alternative rate methodology study to develop up to three alternative models to the state’s current market rate model for child care subsidies. Building on the initial cost modeling work completed by the Center for American Progress – the new models and cost estimates for helping families afford child care will be developed with recommended actions and next steps–recognizing that low-income families spend as much as 35% of their household income on child care. This will at the same time acknowledge that early childhood teachers can earn less than $10 per hour, often without health insurance and other benefits.
Activity 5.7: NC Pyramid Coaching Model Adaptation Project Pilot
DCDEE will partner with Third Sector Capital Partners to launch and implement the NC Pyramid Coaching Model Adaptation Project Pilot in select NC Pre-K classrooms over a three-year period, pending funding availability. The pilot will test scalable, evidence-based interventions designed to improve children’s social-emotional development (SED) in both Pre-K and K. Based on the results of the pilot and the availability of funds, DCDEE will develop plans for expanding SED interventions to other counties and for developing other outcomes-driven pilots for early education. DCDEE hopes to achieve the following goals through the execution of this pilot: 1) improved early education program quality and services that better meet the needs of children and families in their local context and 2) improved SED outcomes for children in Pre-K and K, with anticipated positive downstream effects on attendance, suspensions, and academic achievement. The NC Pyramid Coaching Model Adaptation Project Pilot aligns with existing early childhood social emotional development efforts underway including Child Care Resources' Healthy Social Behaviors Initiative and the NC Department of Public Instruction's and the NC Early Learning Network's NC Preschool Pyramid Model Initiative.