During the past 30 days, we’ve logged hundreds of miles, crisscrossing the great state of North Carolina to talk with community leaders about the economics of early childhood investment through our regional “Crib to Career” workshops. We’ve heard from economic developers, early childhood leaders, elected officials and many other community leaders.
There is a strong passion for young people that exist in nearly every community I’ve visited. That passion shines through in their visions for what North Carolina could be, and in their frustrations with the status quo. People are both inspired by the possibilities for change, and awed by the sheer scope of the challenges we face.
There is an old saying – if you’ve visited one county in North Carolina, you’ve visited one county. Their needs are as unique as their geographies. In some communities, transportation is a major impediment to realizing returns on early childhood investment. In others, there is a real deficit in terms of their ability to understand the fluctuations of their early childhood population from year to year. Whatever the challenges, one thing is clear – communities want change.
While there are several communities that are leading the charge, the majority of our communities are struggling to raise awareness and to create the necessary coalitions needed to effect lasting change on this front. We’ve heard from commissioners and mayors about the very real divides that exist in most of our communities between the institutions that make up our early child care system, and our wider educational, governmental, and private sector organizations.
These leaders are hungry for more information and resources to engage others from their communities and to help build their own coalitions. I’ve had many requests for copies of the “Crib to Career” Pipeline presentation used at each of these workshops. It is clear that we have a long way to go to realizing a state that is aligned with one purpose – building a quality system that can produce the talent we need to ensure North Carolina children are prepared for whatever the future brings.
In the coming months, IEI will endeavor to fill that need by making available all of the resources and tools that went into developing our workshops. Right now, you can download the PowerPoint slides from the regional presentations from our website. In addition, we have provided custom infographics for all 100 counties that you may download. These graphics feature a crib to career pipeline with data points that show the talent leakage that contributes to our low ranking on the national PreK-12 system rankings.
I encourage you to stay tuned for releases of other compelling and informative reports around this critical issue that may serve as resources for your local efforts. Additionally, we will soon be releasing information on our 2018 Emerging Issues Forum, kidonomics, coming up February 5-6, which will take a deeper dive into the “How To” of early childhood investment, providing practical hands-on information from the experts on how to design, implement and fund local childhood development initiatives.
Last, but not least, we are excited to soon be letting you know how your community can be the recipient of thousands of dollars in technical assistance as we kick off our local early childhood system improvement initiative in the spring.
We have a lot of exciting work planned in preparation for the Forum next February – we hope you’ll join us there.
Donnie Charleston, IEI Economic Policy Manger