The Early Childhood Task Force Advisory Board (ECTFAB) formed four workgroups comprised of diverse community stakeholders to look at benchmarks associated with the NC Early Childhood Action Plan (NC ECAP). The statewide ECAP was developed after the issuance of Executive Order 49 by Governor Roy Cooper in the summer of 2018. The order was to develop an action plan to improve early childhood outcomes with benchmarks set for impact by 2025.
In mid-2022, the dedicated workgroups of the Cabarrus County ECTFAB completed the development of draft action plans with short-term and long-term strategies that align with the state’s four focus areas and 10 goals. The full action plan, and recommendation to focus on goals 8, 9 and 10 will go to Cabarrus County Commissioners for approval in early 2023.
The DRAFT Cabarrus County Early Childhood Action Plan (ECAP) focuses on the following areas:
Learning and Ready to Succeed: Children have access to affordable, individualized, high-quality early learning opportunities provided by highly qualified, knowledgeable, well compensated educators prepared to partner with families on the road to kindergarten readiness. (Goals 8, 9, 10)
Goal 8 – High-Quality Early Learning
Build capacity to ensure families with children 0-5 years of age have accessibility to high-quality child care so, they can be an active part of the workforce and/or go to school to further their education.
Increase the percentage of income-eligible children enrolled in NC Pre-K.
Decrease the percent of family income present on child care.
Goal 9 – On Track for School Success
Increase the percentage of children who enter kindergarten at a level typical for their age group according to the NC Early Learning Inventory (NC ELI).
Goal 10 – Reading at Grade Level
Increase the percentage of children achieving high levels of reading proficiency according to the End of Grade Tests (EOG’s).
The full Action Plan, along with the recommendation to focus on the three goals for Learning and Ready to Succeed, is scheduled to be presented to the Cabarrus County Board of Commissioners in Spring 2023.
Evidence indicates that children learn more during their first six years of life than they do at any other point in their lives. Addressing the disparities in access to early childhood development and educational opportunities can significantly boost and have long lasting impacts on a child’s future health outcomes. Seventy-one-percent of children, 6 years old and younger, live in a household where their parents or single parent reports to work. Although there has not be a dramatic increase in the five and younger population, resources for early childhood education and care are becoming increasingly more challenging to access, as staffing shortages and cost limit availability. The early years are extremely critical and many studies have shown that early childhood interventions can produce long lasting impacts on a child’s cognitive, physical, social, emotional and behavioral development.
This results supports efforts to address with the following Healthy NC 2030 indicators:
Similar to housing, the government has set the recommendation of how much families/people should spend on childcare. For housing, individuals should not spend more than 30% of their income on rent/mortgage + utilities, for child-care a two-child household should only spend 7% of their income on childcare or they are considered ‘cost burden’. In Cabarrus County two-child households are spending 24% of their income.
Child Care Cost Burden is the percent of median household income a two-child household spends on annual childcare costs.
Why is affordable childcare important?
When child care is affordable and accessible, it can increase opportunities for parents or guardians to pursue further education or participate in paid work to earn income, and in some cases, gain healthcare and retirement benefits to support their families. When much of a paycheck goes toward child care expenses, households face difficult trade-offs in meeting other basic needs such as paying rent or mortgage, affording doctor visits, healthy foods, utility bills, and reliable transportation to work or school.