Early Childhood Development

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

Blue Ridge Partnership for Children was awarded $72,000 over two years to expand the benefits of Yancey Alliance for Young Children, a collective impact initiative, into Mitchell and Avery counties. Photo courtesy of Blue Ridge 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 mannerism 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.

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.

Mothering Asheville. Photo courtesy of MAHEC.

Strengthening the Region

Grant Supporting SistasCaring4Sistas Doula Program

The disparity in infant mortality between black and white babies in Buncombe County is significant: four black infants die for every one white infant -- higher than state and national averages. SistasCaring4Sistas Community Based Doulas’ mission is to eradicate disparities in maternal and infant mortality by providing education and doula services to families who face adverse maternal health outcomes before, during and after pregnancy. The program focuses on families of color and builds on CFWNC’s support of home visitation programs such as the Nurse Family Partnership and Parents as Teachers.

Funds are supporting the salary of a full-time doula while MAHEC waits for Medicaid Transformation to begin reimbursing for doula services, allowing an additional 24 pregnant women to access services annually. Significant evidence supports the effectiveness of doula programs. Data demonstrates the link between doulas and higher rates of breastfeeding, decreased rates of Cesarean section deliveries, decreased length of labor, improved mother-infant interactions and decreased evidence of maternal depression. These results highlight the doula's role in strengthening parent-child bonds and promoting healthy intellectual and emotional development for the new baby.

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