At this year’s North Carolina Association for the Education of Young Children (NCaeyc) annual conference, early educators raised their voices to help state legislators understand what supports they and the families they work with need to best support young children’s success.
Early educators were asked – What do you need to support you in proving children with high quality learning experiences? Response themes included an adequate and standardized compensation system, the public and policymakers better understanding and valuing the work they do, and more professional development for training on how to support children with different learning needs. Educators also expressed a need for more resources—funding more slots, smaller class sizes, classroom materials, and ensuring more high quality learning environments across the whole state, for all children.
Educators were also asked – What do the families you work with need to be able to best support their children’s success? Response themes were wide-ranging and included empowerment and respect; access to high quality education for their children; and parenting education and training, including how to access available resources. Recognizing that children’s academic success is linked to their health and well-being and that of their families, educators also mentioned prenatal care, transportation, and financial support as urgent needs. Educators also shared the needs of families who tend to fall through the cracks in the system: financial supports for families that don’t quite qualify for subsidies, more subsidy slots for families that are eligible for but not receiving subsidies, and more inclusive educational options for diverse learners and children with special needs.
North Carolina is working toward building an aligned birth-through-age-eight early childhood system, where all children have health and development on track, live in supported and supportive families and communities, and have access to high quality early education. To be successful, we need to engage those who are interacting with children and their families every day.