$54,460 ECD Grant Funds Region-Wide Needs Assessment

A $54,460 Early Childhood Development (ECD) Focus Area Grant to the Buncombe County Partnership for Children (BCPC) will fund a study gathering information regarding the needs of children not enrolled in licensed care in Western North Carolina. The data will be used by public agencies and nonprofits to guide decisions regarding program direction and delivery. A Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina Foundation grant funded planning for the assessment.

The disturbing lack of information regarding the needs of children in Western North Carolina, aged birth to five, not enrolled in licensed childcare has child advocates concerned. "CFWNC's Early Childhood Development Focus Area has, since inception, had a goal of addressing the educational and developmental issues of young children not in formal care. Finding those children—much less working with them—has proven difficult," said Philip Belcher, who leads the ECD Task Force. "Children in licensed care are far more accessible to services, and CFWNC has excellent partnerships with a variety of early childhood providers. This grant offers the possibility of producing new strategies to access children and families outside of the licensed child care system. This study will inform the Local Partnerships and, perhaps, our own Early Childhood Development efforts."

BCPC will use a team of professionals, including a project coordinator, a data analyst, data entry staff, a focus group trainer, focus group facilitators and translators, as needed, to conduct the assessment in 18 western counties and the Qualla Boundary. The research will result in a comprehensive and accessible report, expected to be distributed in May 2015. BCPC is committed to sharing the results broadly to funders, school systems, health departments and community partners.

The report will present critical information about current care situations for children; activities in which children are engaged, with a focus on school readiness; barriers to obtaining licensed or preferred child care and other support; the need for additional services and programs; knowledge of existing programs; and how families currently get information and prefer to receive it. The assessment will identify overlapping community needs and highlight opportunities for collaboration. It is intended to inform agencies and nonprofits about the best locations for community-based programming, thereby improving access to these hard-to-reach families.