Today, Governor Roy Cooper toured Ashe Developmental Day School in Ashe County to highlight the need to invest in child care and early childhood education. He outlined the dangerous impacts of extreme Republican legislation that would provide no meaningful funding for critical early childhood education and child care, cause public schools to lose hundreds of millions of dollars through the expansion of private school vouchers and exacerbate the state’s teacher shortage.
“Early childhood education provides children with a strong start, allows parents to work and helps businesses hire employees,” said Governor Cooper. “Republican legislators are threatening North Carolina’s historic economic growth if they fail to invest in child care.”
“We greatly appreciate Governor Cooper’s stance on the importance of early childhood education. We feel like our concerns and needs as a profession are finally being heard! The stabilization grants enabled us to stay open during the pandemic and maintain the quality of care provided. Since reinstating open enrollment in June of 2020, we’ve faced a lot of staff turnover but with the compensation support, we’ve been able to offer new hires competitive wages and increased benefits,” said Rebecca Rash, Director of Ashe Developmental Day School. “As the current grant money ends, our program is very excited to have multiple participants enrolled in the Building Bright Futures apprenticeship program which will allow us to better support and guide new early childhood educators. This amazing partnership will help to fill gaps in our budget while opening doors for higher education and incentives for staff.”
“Building Bright Futures demonstrates the state’s decades-long commitment to children by building a high-quality early care and learning network that helps families raise capable children and build a stronger North Carolina,” said Susan Osborne, North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services Deputy Secretary of Opportunity and Well-Being. “But we need to strengthen investment in our early childhood teachers to give more parents the security they need and more children the high-quality early learning that is critical for their success in school and life.”
Both the Senate and House budgets provide no meaningful support for critical early childhood education and child care. The Senate budget fails early learners, their families and businesses by providing no state funding for child care stabilization grants or the expansion of Smart Start or NC Pre-K. The House budget proposes only minimal funds to increase the child care subsidy rate and for Smart Start.
Ashe Developmental Day School received over $380,000 of North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services (NCDHHS) child care stabilization grants to help increase teacher wages and make repairs for school equipment. As of April 18, 2023, NCDHHS has distributed a total of $875 million to more than 4,400 child care centers across the state. Stabilization grants will expire in December 2023.
At the event, Governor Cooper also discussed the Building Bright Futures (BBF) early childhood education pre-apprenticeship-to-apprenticeship program. The program is a partnership between the North Carolina Business Committee for Education (NCBCE) and the NCDHHS Division of Child Developmental and Early Education (DCDEE) to pilot new pathways to entering the early childhood profession. Building Bright Futures offers a variety of benefits to participating early child care providers and students including mentorship, professional development, career awareness, and other enrichment activities. Multiple staff members from Ashe Developmental Day School have applied to be in the BBF program.
Ashe Developmental Day School is a five-star, private, nonprofit child care center in Jefferson. It is an inclusive center that serves students with disabilities.