Early Childhood Development

Our Mission is to support every young child in Western North Carolina in realizing his or her full potential.

Reach Out and Read Carolinas was awarded $30,000 to support the implementation and expansion of the Reach Out and Read program to supply developmentally and culturally appropriate children’s books to children and parents at well child visits through medical offices across the region. Photo courtesy of Reach Out and Read.

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 through access to high-quality pre-kindergarten—can help children arrive at school ready to learn and thrive.

However, access to high-quality early care and education in North Carolina, including the 18 WNC counties served by the Foundation, is highly problematic.

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

Home Visiting Programs

According to the North Carolina Early Education Coalition (NCEEC), home visiting programs strengthen the relationship between parents and children, benefit mothers by improving prenatal health, improve child health outcomes, and increase children’s school readiness and cognitive development. “Each year, more than 120,000 babies are born in North Carolina. However, home visiting programs serve less than 1% of infants and toddlers across the state, and many communities have no services at all.” In Western North Carolina, fewer than 1% of children are served by home visiting programs among families with children ages 0-3 in 8 of our 18 counties. In 3 counties, 5-10% are served. In the remaining 10, no more than 5% are served.

Access to High-quality Programs

The availability of high-quality early childhood programs is also a problem. In our 18-county region, there are 5.64 children for every available infant/toddler slot. High-quality care, even if slots are available, is very expensive, with infant care averaging $9,255 annually in North Carolina. According to NCEEC, “[b]ecause of this, North Carolina provides child care financial assistance for low-income working families through the Child Care Subsidy Program. This . . . program is designed to help families earning at or below 200% of the federal poverty level . . . pay for child care while they work or attend school and provide their children with access to quality early care and learning programs.” In Western North Carolina, only 20% of eligible infants and toddlers received services in 2018.

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.

Mission: Support every young child in Western North Carolina in realizing his or her full potential.

Goal: 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.

Remie Ducut and her son Chase worked with the NFP program. Photo courtesy of NFP.

Strengthening the Region

Expansion of Nurse Family Partnership

Beginning in 2014, CFWNC has awarded $50,000 per year to Southwestern Child Development Commission, a nonprofit organization in Webster, NC (SWCDC), to manage a Nurse Family Partnership (NFP) program in Haywood, Jackson, Macon and Swain counties. All but a small percentage of grant dollars distributed have come from CFWNC fundholders who want to co-invest with the Foundation in this important work. NFP is an evidence-based, community health home visiting program with more than 40 years of evidence showing significant improvements in the health and lives of first-time mothers and their children living in poverty. Four decades of research have shown:

  • 40% reduction in child abuse and neglect
  • 67% less behavioral and intellectual problems in children at age 6
  • 72% fewer convictions of mothers (measured when child is 15)
  • 82% increase in months employed
  • 35% fewer hypertensive disorders of pregnancy

Since the SWCDC NFP program began accepting clients on June 1, 2014, home visiting nurses have made more than 7,000 home visits.

The members of the WNC Early Childhood Coalition advocate to improve access to quality, affordable early childhood education in WNC. Photo by Lynne Harty.

Advocacy to Improve the Calculation and Allocation of the NC Child Care Subsidy in WNC

Not only are far too few WNC children able to access high-quality early care and education because of insufficient NC Child Care Subsidy dollars, a complicated and inefficient system of calculating and allocating subsidy funds by county sometimes results in counties with no waiting list receiving excess funds and counties with waiting lists with a subsidy shortage. Needless to say, it’s a complex technical issue; however, it must be addressed if WNC’s children are to see the benefits the Child Care Subsidy program is meant to provide.

Since 2013, CFWNC has invested nearly $400,000 in the WNC Early Childhood Coalition, a group of early childhood professionals with expertise in advocacy and early childhood policy, to improve NC’s system for calculating and allocating NC Child Care Subsidy dollars. In recent years, the work has expanded to include other policy matters that directly affect child well-being in WNC. CFWNC believes that adequate public funding is an essential part of improving the lives of our youngest residents. The power of foundation and individual philanthropy is strong, but the value of advocacy for better policy and improved funding streams cannot be overestimated.

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