There’s no denying it – 2020 made us sit back (literally) and forced us to redesign and rethink a future so that we could respond to the many critical needs in our community. We are all working together to move our early childhood system towards equity and to determine better results for young children and their families. Here’s how we have risen to the challenge this year with our initiatives:
Family Forward NC
2020 marked Family Forward NC’s third year of engaging and inspiring employers to create business smart, family-friendly and future ready workplaces. COVID-19 created new relationships and deepened existing ones as the impact of the lack of workplace benefits such as paid leave and child care supports became more understood by everyone. Our accomplishments this year include:
- From paid leave to babies at work, we published nine new case studies of NC employers offering family-friendly workplace benefits. Examples include the Greensboro Chamber of Commerce, the City of Wilmington and SoCa and ko-än restaurants in the Triangle.
- We released results of a survey of 359 NC employers. Conducted by Capital Associated Industries, the survey asked employers about their family-friendly workplace benefits during COVID-19 and anticipated post-COVID. There’s good news and much more to be done.
- We adapted to the pandemic by offering no cost access to HR experts to the tourism and manufacturing industries. Rapid Response assists employers in rethinking employee supports critical to the continued viability of businesses and continued health and well-being of parents and their children. Our three part webinar series and companion Return to Work Kits provide resources for employers to get started during COVID-19 and beyond.
NC Pathways to Grade-Level Reading
Pathways continued to build on its policy and data work with partners to ensure every NC child is reading on grade-level by the end of third grade.
- We facilitated state-level collaboration and family voice in two critical areas with the NC Initiative for Young Children’s Social-Emotional Health, led by NC Child, and a collective effort with multiple partners to reimagine child care in NC. Both initiatives build on Pathways Action Framework recommendations and respond to long-standing needs that have been further laid bare by COVID-19.
- We remained committed to implementing the Pathways Frameworks —co-created with our partners—with the development of two online tools: the Pathways Data Dashboard and the Pathways Action Map. Our goal for these tools is to help drive action towards grade-level reading that is centered in racial equity and family voice, grounded in data, and realized in policy.
- We released data workgroup recommendations for two priority areas in early childhood measurement that were identified by Pathways partners: Child Development at Kindergarten Entry and Children’s Social-Emotional Health. The recommendations will be used to inform the NC Early Childhood Action Plan, Pathways, and other state-level data efforts.
Racial Equity Work
NCECF spent 2020 preparing more concrete strategies in racial equity both internally and externally. Some of the areas that NCECF has been working on include:
- Creating an internal team to build organizational capacity and provide strategic direction. NCECF developed a Racial Equity Committee that includes members of the board of directors and staff and is led by our Organizational Equity Officer. The Racial Equity Committee, in partnership with NCECF staff, set the strategic direction and a means of accountability by developing A Commitment to Racial Equity.
- Gathering baseline data and information to self-identify areas for organizational change. Through research and consultation with experts, NCECF decided to use a modified version of the Coalition of Communities of Color’s Tool for Organizational Self-Assessment Related to Racial Equity, to gather initial data on the practices and procedures that can drive organizational change.
- Creating a safe space for open dialogue to have difficult but necessary conversations. Together we are reading about historical and present-day race-based policies in our country. Now our staff and board are participating in facilitated conversations about what we’ve learned. We are deepening our thinking and understanding about racism to pinpoint areas for change in our organization.
Support Us in Supporting Young Children
Smart investments in children’s early years produce the best results in education, health and economic well-being for North Carolina. Together, we can ensure that our future leaders have the skills required to tackle the challenges and act on the opportunities of tomorrow.
We humbly ask you to consider an investment in our work as we respond to the significant disruption that will serve as a catalyst for transformative changes to the early childhood development ecosystem. Your support will help harness the hopes and opportunities for change
A lot can happen in less than a year, and we are nimble enough to adjust to meet the needs of the early childhood development community. As we continue to grow and look forward to 2021, we invite you to partner with us to create a brighter future for our young children and their families. Please support us in supporting young children!