Early Childhood Development

Our goal is to help every young child in Western North Carolina to realize their full potential.

Buncombe Partnership for Children was awarded $46,018 to strengthen support for families with young children through the expansion of Kaleidoscope Play & Learn groups for infants and toddlers and piloting Circle of Security parenting classes. Photo courtesy of Buncombe Partnership for Children.

A Better Future for Our Children

High-quality early care and education are essential to the health, development and future success of children. Efforts to support healthy development—from prenatal support to access to high-quality early childhood development programs to successful transitions to kindergarten—can help children arrive at school ready to learn and thrive. Access to high-quality early care and education in Western North Carolina is problematic due to multiple factors, including a shortage of qualified teachers, underfunding from the public sector, and a lingering (though diminishing) attitude that parents alone are responsible for the development of their children. Strong community collaborations are an important part of overcoming those obstacles and advocating for improvements to the early childhood systems that could lead to lasting change.

High-quality early care and education are essential to the health, development and future success of children.

Providing Support for the Youth of Western North Carolina

Community Collaborations

Since CFWNC began focusing a portion of its grant dollars on improving early childhood outcomes, local Partnerships for Children and independent nonprofits affiliated with the North Carolina Partnership for Children have been some of our most energetic and effective partners. One of these local partnerships, the Region A Partnership for Children (RAPC), administers North Carolina’s Smart Start and NC Pre-K initiatives in the seven western-most counties of North Carolina and on the Qualla Boundary. RAPC’s mission is to improve the quality of life for young children and families in western North Carolina by encouraging advocacy and collaboration and funding services that focus on prevention and early intervention. Importantly, collaboration is a major thrust of that mission.

According to Janice Edgerton, Executive Director of RAPC, collaboration is one of the reasons “the local partnerships and Smart Start were created in the first place. [Our work] requires engagement of all systems with which children and families interact. What I know is that, without the collaboratives, our work would be much more difficult.” RAPC noted that, in its work with the Great by Eight collaborative in Haywood County and Swain County’s Growing Our Future initiative, organizations discovered new information about resources and needs in their communities, exhibited a high degree of enthusiasm about the opportunity to network with other community organizations with which they might not interact in the ordinary course of their operations, and exhibited significant agreement about RAPC’s approach of supporting children and families in a holistic and coordinated fashion. Edgerton also noted that, although using the Pathways to Grade Level Reading, the NC Early Childhood Action Plan and local data from NC Child in considering and planning helps to galvanize and energize the teams in sharing a unified mission, ”it is crucial to understand that each community is unique and that success requires operating with each community’s history, culture, and mannerisms in mind. We have to be intent on learning from each other all the time.”

CFWNC has also developed strong relationships with other local partnerships.

How We're Making a Difference

Investing in the expansion of high-quality early care and education will improve quality of life throughout the region and lead to a stronger economy and more vibrant communities. Since 2011, CFWNC has made grants to effective, evidence-based programs and has supported advocacy encouraging systems-level changes in early childhood development.

Goals: Support every young child in Western North Carolina in realizing their full potential and to improve educational and development outcomes for children ages 0-5 in Western North Carolina.

Strategies: CFWNC makes grants to: (1) raise public awareness of the importance of investing in early childhood development; (2) initiate or continue evidence-based early childhood development programs; and (3) advocate for changes to public policy that will enhance the lives of young children in our region.

Photo courtesy of Mount Zion Community Development.

Strengthening the Region

Mount Zion Community Development’s Project NAF

Mount Zion Community Development was awarded $50,000 to implement strategies to reduce minority infant mortality and improve the quality of early childhood experiences of the children of NAF (Nurturing Asheville and Area Families) participants. Mount Zion Community Development, through NAF, has provided case management, support, and advocacy services to pregnant and post-partum African American women and their children since 1998. With this grant, NAF is working (1) to improve pregnancy and birth outcomes by implementing the Partners for a Healthy Baby Curriculum; (2) to provide case management, advocacy, and supportive services, including initial assessment, empowerment plans, and monthly one-on-one education sessions; and (3) to improve infant and child development outcomes by assisting parents and children within the context of the multifaceted needs of parenting families. The Oliver Family Fund, the Dogwood Charitable Endowment Fund, and the Dr. Robert J. and Kimberly S. Reynolds Fund provided co-investment for this grant.

To learn more about our Early Childhood Development focus area, contact Philip Belcher, Vice President for Programs, at 828-367-9901.