Unlocking Local Dollars for Early Childhood

Raleigh, North Carolina. April 14, 2016 – A new toolkit is available for NC communities interested in investing in children’s early years. Local Funding for Early Learning: A North Carolina Community Toolkit, details funding mechanisms that could be implemented at the local level to expand early childhood investments.

In North Carolina, early childhood investments have typically been funded with federal, state and lottery dollars. Local revenue streams offer another means to expand early learning programs and practices for communities, particularly as child populations are growing and demand for programs is increasing.

“Municipalities and counties across the country are on the cutting edge of investing in early learning because they recognize its importance for the well being of their children and their economy,” said Lisa Finaldi, Community Engagement Leader at NCECF.” Building vibrant, desirable places for people to live and businesses to grow begins with ensuring each child in a community has the opportunity to fulfill his or her potential.”

The website – financingtools.buildthefoundation.org – describes financial mechanisms to generate local revenue, details those that can be employed now without state policy change and those that would require a change in state policy. The toolkit also provides background on how local governments are organized, the local budget process, existing federal and state funding streams for early learning and tools to assess community readiness for a local investment initiative.

The mechanisms described in the toolkit include:

  • Sales Tax
  • Property Tax
  • Occupancy Tax
  • Allocation of Fees
  • Line Item in a Government Budget
  • Municipal or County Bond
  • Social Impact Bonds
  • Tax Credits
  • Special Tax Districts

The toolkit also contains 10 case studies from across the country that profile successful rural and urban communities that are investing in early learning, the financing mechanisms chosen in those communities and the results of their investments. Many more communities have either invested in early learning and are in process to do so.

“Communities are hungry for better ways to meet the needs of their children. There is a dearth of information on how to grow resources locally. This toolkit provides such an excellent guide to those who care about North Carolina children,” said Elizabeth Gaines, Senior Fellow at The Forum for Youth Investment.

A five-member Advisory Council provided expert consultation on the development and content of the toolkit .

  • Linda Struyk Millsaps, Research Director of the NC Association of County Commissioners
  • Kara A. Millonzi, Associate Professor of Public Law and Government at the University of North Carolina School of Government
  • Jerry Schafer, Vice President for Worldwide Development for McDonald’s Corporation
  • Mark Wells, rural economic development expert.
  • Joe Waters, Vice President of the Institute for Child Success

The toolkit, produced by the North Carolina Early Childhood Foundation (NCECF) and the North Carolina Budget and Tax Center (NCBTC), is non-partisan and does not recommend any single approach to advancing local funding.

Over the coming months, NCECF and NCBTC will lead regional workshops around the state for communities interested in local investments in early learning.

Download our new fact sheet on local investments in early learning and read more about our work to advance policies that create a stronger NC today and tomorrow.