Joint Legislative Task Force on the Consolidation of Early Childhood Education and Care Meeting Summary

January 20, 2010

Representative Ray Rapp

Senator Dan Blue-Presiding

Local Perspectives:

Ms. Pam Dowdy of the Wake County Partnership for Children addressed the committee on early childhood programs in the most populous county in the State, Wake. One of every three children, birth to five, was Medicaid eligible and one out of four was enrolled in regulated child care. As of June 2009 the children waiting for child care subsidies was as high as the number receiving them, 5800. The largest number of children are enrolled in More at Four (1,257), while Title I and Head Start have fewer than 1200 combined. Local leaders are involved in decision making which is one of the keys to a successful program. Wake County SmartStart uses best practices to develop model programs. Wake’s budget for SmartStart in 2008-2009 was a little more than $23 million. Things that have worked in Wake include: universal application, improved outcomes and ability to target children who are most at risk, while challenges remain in the following areas: unserved and underserved children, instability of funding, emerging issues (behavior), and long term economic impact.

Ms. Sheila Hoyle of the Southwest Development Commission presented and spoke of the multiple funding streams that flow from the state to the locals.  She talked about how the separate funding streams provide for services that meet the unique needs of children at the local level.  Her message was that they have a highly coordinated system of early education and care working from the state level down to the locals.

Ms. Eva Hansen President of the Partnership for Children of Cumberland County presented on Cumberland which is the fifth largest area in the State serving 28,778 children ages birth to five. State’s fourth largest African American community and fifth largest Hispanic child population comprise Cumberland. Nearly 40 percent of military children are younger than six. Local partnerships use funding to meet local needs in the community. They have 1,971 More at Four slots which were immediately filled the first day of school. Efficiencies in services are provided through collaboration, use of Federal, State, and local resources, unified approach to share services, flexibility, and technology. Cumberland has more than 78 sites and 146 classrooms for More at Four. They also work directly with Cumberland County Schools to provide programs for at-risk pre-K children. Their primary areas of success are in the integration of programs and services as well as leveraging resources and increasing efficiency, effectiveness, transparency, and accountability.

Richard M. Clifford responded to questions regarding his presentation in December on Early Childhood program integration.

A review was provided on the 2009-2010 investments in Early Childhood Education and Care Programs: DPI is administering the following programs: More at Four, IDEA preschool for exceptional children, Head Start, Title I Preschool, and Even Start Family Literacy with funds totaling more than $410,000. DHHS administers the child care subsidy program, SmartStart, and early intervention with resources totaling $680,000. The Federal, State, and local funding equate to more than $1 billion for early childhood programs.

A group of early childhood leaders (DCD, OSR, NCPC) were asked to present their recommendations on consolidation of early childhood programs at the February meeting.  Representative Rapp and Senator Blue encouraged the group to work collaboratively with the Governor’s Office before their presentation next month.  The chairs want to make sure their suggestions are in-line with the Governor’s education strategy for early childhood programs.

Next Meeting: Thursday, February 11, at 1:00 PM.

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