The North Carolina Early Childhood Foundation launched in 2013 with a belief that solving problems requires starting from a place that is energizing, promotes broad engagement, is rooted in exploration, and is grounded in research.
We are fortunate to be working in a state that has such a strong record of innovation and success when it comes to education. We were the first state to make full-day kindergarten universally available. We pioneered the nation’s first comprehensive early childhood initiative, Smart Start. We launched NC PreK (formerly More at Four) to provide at-risk children with high quality learning environments. We want to build on this success.
At the national and state level, policymakers, disappointed with reading proficiency levels and high school graduation rates, began emphasizing end of third grade success as a critical benchmark. At the same time, research showing that birth to eight is a critical developmental period was gaining attention – a key aspect of the research is the recognition that the years from birth to eight must be viewed as continuum that is larger than any one program.
As we talked with early education leaders from across the state, it became clear that there was a need for an organization that had a combination of early childhood, engagement and implementation expertise and that would be poised to engage communities and state partners on actionable visions on behalf of young children.
We seek to provide an independent, nonpartisan voice to speak to all policies and programs that recognize that children birth to eight need good health, supported and supportive families and communities, and high quality early learning experiences during their early years to be most successful.