KidsReadyNC Teams Inform Statewide Early Childhood Plan

Representatives from IEI’s KidsReadyNC communities met this month to share their experiences with staff from the North Carolina Partnership for Children (NCPC), the organization guiding the state’s Smart Start early childhood development network.

From April 2018 through October 2019, the KidsReadyNC initiative successfully increased local leadership capacity in the early childhood systems of four lower-resource communities, generating early “wins” and leaving each community with both strategies and momentum to produce positive childhood outcomes over time. This effort showed that a mostly virtual approach to delivering support—properly designed—can be successful while costing significantly less than more traditional methods.

The November meeting was timely. NCPC is designing its own multi-year effort using virtual support to increase local leadership capacity and strengthen the systems that boost early childhood development outcomes. KidsReadyNC leaders from Chowan, Catawba, Randolph and Rockingham counties, including the heads of each county’s Smart Start office, expressed overall support for the plan’s goals. Among the plan’s elements, commenters particularly liked its focus on changing mindsets and on equity. Participants encouraged NCPC staff to embed flexibility in their plan, such as allowing each Smart Start office to set its own local goals and to recognize—and compensate for—the fact that communities can have widely different levels of resources available to them.

A similar debriefing session with the KidsReadyNC team that provided support to the four communities will take place in December.