Talking about early childhood education in North Carolina

Wednesday, May 23rd, 2012 | Author: Tracy

Today’s News & Observer includes an op-ed challenging North Carolina’s gubernatorial candidates to speak to early childhood education issues as part of their campaigns and specifically to devote a portion of at least one debate to the topic.

As Dr. Olson Huff notes, out of more than 1,000 questions asked during 20 primary presidential debates there was not one on early childhood education. It is up to each of us to make sure that is not the case our state’s election process. 

Please take the following three actions:

  1. Post a link to the op-ed on your Facebook page. Include a comment asking people to ‘share’ the link and spread the word.
  2. Post a link to the op-ed on Lt. Gov. Walter Dalton’s  and Pat McCrory’s Facebook pages with the comment, “What is your plan to ensure that children start school prepared for success; succeed in school and are prepared to lead; have the opportunity to reach their full potential?”
  3. Send an email to your network.

Read the op-ed:

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NC Lt. Governor Walter Dalton Thanks Early Childhood Profesionals

Friday, May 18th, 2012 | Author: Tracy

Lt. Governor Walter Dalton helped kick-off the 2012 National Smart Start Conference earlier this month. He thanked the 1,000+ early childhood professionals in attendance for the hard work they do and spoke to the value of early childhood education.

Harnett County Partnership For Children Hosts Leaders For Readers Event

Tuesday, May 15th, 2012 | Author: Patti Mulligan

Harnett County Partnership For Children Hosts Leaders For Readers Event

The Daily Record 05/11/2012, Page A02

The Harnett County Partner­ship for Children (HCPC) hosted Leaders for Readers in celebra­tion of Week of the Young Child. Week of the Young Child is a national annual celebration sponsored by the National Asso­ciation for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC), to fo­cus public attention on the needs of young children and their fam­ilies and to recognize the early childhood programs and servic­es that meet those needs.

HCPC was delighted to have former educator Fay Etheridge, Superintendent of Harnett Coun­ty Schools Tom Frye and candi­date for N.C. House of Represen­tatives Joe Langley participate in Leaders for Readers. The group enjoyed breakfast at the Harnett County Partnership for Children while discussing early childhood topics and discussing the importance of early child­hood investments.

“Children’s earliest experi­ences literally determine how their brains are wired. With quality early childhood educa­tion, children will be school ready, have higher graduation rates and grow into productive citizens,” said Lisa Familo, ex­ecutive director of HCPC.

Following the breakfast, par­ticipants departed to three local N.C. Pre-K classrooms to read and spend time with Harnett County’s youngest citizens. N.C. Pre-K is North Carolina’s pre­kindergarten program for 4-year-old children. It is de­signed to help prepare 4-year-old children for kindergarten, through a curriculum-based, classroom-style learning envi­ronment.

Each Leaders for Readers participant read the book “The Crayon Box that Talked” by Shane DeRolf. Fay Etheridge read at Lillington-Shawtown El­ementary School, Superinten­dent Tom Frye read at North Harnett Primary School and Joe Langley read at Lilly Pads Child Development Center.

About HCPC

The Harnett County Partner­ship for Children is a nonprofit organization which utilizes Smart Start and N.C. Pre-K funds as well as private dona­tions to provide programs and services that impact children during the earliest years of life, birth through age 5. For more information about Smart Start services in Harnett County, contact 893-2344 or

Governor Perdue Releases Budget, Recommends Restoring $43M in Cuts to Early Education

Thursday, May 10th, 2012 | Author: Patti Mulligan

Dr. Olson Huff, Board Chair of The North Carolina Partnership for Children, Inc.

“We applaud Governor Perdue for putting forth a budget that heavily invests in young children, restoring millions of dollars of funding cut from Smart Start and NC PreK. Her budget reflects her ongoing commitment to ensuring that children have the opportunities that they need to succeed in school and in life. The years between birth to five are critical, not only for individual children, but for all North Carolinians. When we provide children with the experiences they need during their early years, we get a lifetime of results not just for those children, but also our state and our economy.

There are only 2,000 days between the time a baby is born and when that child shows up for the first day of kindergarten. Children’s experiences during this time literally determine how their brains are wired. With quality early childhood education, children will be school ready; have higher graduation rates and grow into productive citizens and valuable employees. These investments will begin to rebuild our state’s nationally renowned early childhood system.”

See the full budget at Early education recommendations begin on page 96.


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Webinar: Pre-Kindergarten in NC

Tuesday, May 08th, 2012 | Author: Patti Mulligan

Pre-Kindergarten in NC: An Effective Strategy for School Success

Join us for a Webinar on May 15, 2012, 10AM – 11AM

Register Now!

Reserve your Webinar seat now at:

Co-hosted by the North Carolina Business Committee for Education and the Department of Public Instruction, this webinar will explore the important role that high-quality pre-kindergarten programs play in preparing young children for school success. The history and function of pre-kindergarten in North Carolina as well as current challenges to sustaining this critical effort will be discussed.

Pre-Kindergarten in NC: An Effective Strategy for School Success
Tuesday, May 15, 2012
10:00 AM – 11:00 AM EDT
After registering you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the Webinar.

System Requirements
PC-based attendees
Required: Windows® 7, Vista, XP or 2003 Server
Macintosh®-based attendees
Required: Mac OS® X 10.5 or newer

State Pre-K Assessment Policies: Issues and Status

Friday, April 20th, 2012 | Author: Patti Mulligan

State Pre-K Assessment Policies: Issues and Status

The Educational Testing Service has released a report that looks at current approaches states are using to assess children enrolled in Pre-K programs, some of the challenges of assessing young children’s learning, and suggested sound practices for states to consider implementing. State Pre-K Assessment Policies: Issues and Status (2012), by Debra Ackerman and Richard Coley, includes a summary chart of assessment practices used by the states on page 14. The document was developed to help early childhood educators and decision makers with effectively incorporating assessments into their programs to document effectiveness.

Action for Children: “State Investments in Child Well-Being Matter”

Friday, April 20th, 2012 | Author: Patti Mulligan

When it Comes to Child-Well-Being, State Investments Matter

Recent Budget Cuts to Essential Services Jeopardize North Carolina Children’s Opportunities for Success   



(Raleigh, N.C.)-North Carolina’s investments in children and youth have fallen short in recent budget years, a fact which may undermine the future economic competitiveness of the state, according to a new release from Action for Children North Carolina.


The report, Public Investments Matter for Child Well-Being: Smart State Policy Can Change Lives, uses analysis from the Foundation for Child Development’s 2012 State Child Well-Being Index, a comprehensive, state-by-state measure of children’s quality-of-life, to create a local look at how children in North Carolina fared during recent budget decisions. The report finds that children were a low-priority during North Carolina’s 2011-13 budget biennium.


“More than two-thirds of public resources invested in children occur at the state-level, giving states significant influence over efforts to improve the well-being of children and youth.” said Barb Bradley, President & CEO of Action for Children North Carolina, a statewide research and advocacy organization. “And yet, cuts made during the 2011-13 budget biennium weakened the very structures that serve to support our children’s healthy growth and development: education, access to preventive health services and assistance to families who have fallen on difficult times.”


Although North Carolina routinely ranks among the best states for business-friendly environments, it consistently ranks among the worst states for children’s outcomes. Investments in child well-being not only support children’s immediate quality-of-life, they improve the state’s overall economic competitiveness by generating the highly-skilled workforce required to compete, and win, in the 21st century global economy.


Key findings from the report include:

  • Public investments can impact child well-being. The amount of public investments has been found to be highly related to states’ overall child well-being scores.
  • Revenue matters.  When states generate resources to support policies and programs that preserve children’s well-being, children experience better outcomes.
  • Recent budget cuts threaten North Carolina’s future prosperity. Cuts throughout North Carolina’s education continuum, from pre-kindergarten to post-secondary education, jeopardize the quality of education provided in North Carolina, and undermine the state’s ability to build the workforce of tomorrow.

“Now is not the time to divest from the policies and programs that help preserve our children’s quality of life,” said Bradley. “Instead, our elected leaders must make smarter choices that prioritize the well-being of children and youth and protect the future prosperity of our state.”


The report offers several recommendations to restore investments in children and put North Carolina’s economy back on track. 


Public Investments Matter for Child Well-Being: Smart State Policy Can Change Lives, is available on Action for Children North Carolina’s website at 


Click here to view a brief fact sheet about this report, Building Brighter Futures Renewing North Carolina’s Commitment to Children and Youth


# # #


Action for Children North Carolina is a leading statewide, nonpartisan, nonprofit policy research and advocacy organization dedicated to ensuring that North Carolina children are healthy, safe, well-educated and have every opportunity for success.



Contact:  Barb Bradley 

President & CEO

Action for Children North Carolina

919-834-6623 ext. 224 


Smithfield-Selma Area Chamber of Commerce Supports Early Learning

Friday, April 13th, 2012 | Author: Tracy

The Greater Smithfield-Selma Area Chamber of Commerce wrote a letter to North Carolina legislative leaders supporting early childhood programs in the state.

Chair Jason Wenzel writes, “We are sensitive to the difficult choices faced by all of our elected leaders; however because of the important impact a strong early educational foundation creates for our future workforce, we call on both the Senate and the House of Representatives to strengthen both programs and to restore the disproportionate cuts these programs received in the 2011-2012 budget.”

Download the letter from the Smithfield-Selma Area Chamber of Commerce.

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2012 National Smart Start Conference Program Now Online

Wednesday, April 04th, 2012 | Author: Tracy

Get an early start in selecting which workshops you will attend! The program for the 2012 National Smart Start Conference is now available online. If you have not registered for the conference yet, take a look–you will not want to miss this event. You may register online through April 13.

Check out the amazing line-up of keynote speakers:

Pre-Conference Keynoters: Pennie G. Foster-Fishman, Joan Blough & Alissa Parks
Local system’s change and systems building work is challenging, AND we know more than ever about what it takes to rise to and surmount those challenges. Join us for a stimulating and interactive learning experience where the presenters will share the eight levers for effective local systems change that have been identified and externally evaluated through Michigan’s Great Start initiative. These levers and our approach will help you gain clarity about where your local systems change efforts stand today. Explore the strategies and actions that are crucial to creating the conditions under which effective community leadership can take hold, enabling your community to move collectively to improve outcomes for young children and their families.

Opening Keynote: Lisbeth Schorr
In the last decade, efforts to build knowledge and translate research into practice have focused primarily on program evaluations, preferably using experimental methods. However, it is now becoming clear that any knowledge base that relies only on program evaluations is too narrow to be useful in building interventions to significantly improve lives. The development of more effective programs, policies and strategies, and more informed decision-making, requires that we draw on a combination of evidence from research, theory, practice and evaluation. Next generation solutions to successfully address the complex problems faced by children and families with limited resources must be evidence-based. But ‘‘evidence-based’’ does not have to mean experimental-based. Join Lisbeth Schorr in exploring how we can expand our ideas about credible evidence to support successful implementation and scale up, and to take pragmatic approaches to assessing complex interventions.

Keynote Lecturer: Margaret J. Wheatley
Every community and organization has an abundance of leaders, only visible if we look past formal role descriptions. Change happens not through laws and regulations, but when individuals see something that needs to change, and step forward to serve. Let’s face it: we need big changes in early childhood systems! The challenges are complex and daunting; they are not being solved by top down policies, and we can’t solve them alone. You will leave with a renewed sense of clarity and passion for your role as a leader, for the issue you most care about, and the colleagues you might partner with. You’ll also learn a practice for holding meaningful conversations with your communities and colleagues.

Keynote Lecturer: Judith Palfrey
Dr. Palfrey will discuss going to scale in building an integrated early childhood system and the importance of leadership in the development and maintenance of high quality early childhood networks. Dr. Palfrey has experience in integrated early childhood service delivery and research. She has witnessed the many twists and turns along the road that has led to programs like Parents as Teachers and Early Head Start. For the past eight years, Dr. Palfrey has been working with a multidisciplinary team in Chile on Un Buen Commiensa, an integrated approach to preschool education that focuses on language, literacy, health, socioemotional development and parent engagement.

Closing Keynoters: Major General Charles Luckey, Bill Shore &  Linda K. Smith
Last year we replaced the traditional keynote with a more conversational approach. We had great feedback, so we have lined up three national leaders to inform and stimulate our thinking. Linda K. Smith is the Administration’s new Deputy Assistant Secretary and Inter-Departmental Liaison for Early Childhood Development. She will discuss the President’s early childhood vision and the critical role that she sees for the business and military communities in bringing that vision to fruition. Bill Shore, Chairman of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Institute for a Competitive Workforce and Major General Charles Luckey, Assistant to the Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff for Reserve Matters/Joint Staff Lead Iraq Transition will talk about why they are engaged in early childhood issues and offer advice for attendees to engage local business and military leaders in their work.

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Large Number of NC Children Living in Poverty

Tuesday, March 27th, 2012 | Author: Tracy

(03/27/12) GOLDSBORO, N.C. – More than 500,000 North Carolina children are living in poverty, and more than half of them are living in extreme poverty, according to the Children’s Defense Fund, as their parents struggle to overcome job loss and debt.

Patricia Colon, the president of the North Carolina Head Start Association, explains that generational poverty can be difficult to overcome.

“You hear people say ‘Everybody can make it. All you have to do is pull yourself up by your bootstraps.’ What if you don’t have any bootstraps? What if you don’t have any boots? What if your grandma never had any boots? Nobody in your family has ever had that ability to do it.”

Colon also is the director for Children and Family for Wages, Inc. in Goldsboro. Her community action agency is one of dozens in the state helping families with resources and knowledge to provide a better life for their children.

Bryan Duncan, board chair for the North Carolina Community Action Association, explains why poverty in children can affect them for years to come.

“When we’re hungry, that seems to dominate our thoughts and our minds. With children in that same situation, they will not be able to focus on what they need to focus on to be better prepared for tomorrow.”

Duncan adds that his agency, I Care Inc. in Statesville, is finding that teenagers are struggling to find summer employment in recent years. He attributes that to many minimum-wage jobs being taken by overqualified and unemployed adults looking for ways to make ends meet. Duncan says that in many cases this situation affects families, since teenagers often help with household expenses.

Click here to view this story on the Public News Service RSS site and access an audio version of this and other stories:

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