Action Map Spotlights Initiatives Ensuring Systems are Family-Driven and Equitable

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Earlier this year, the NC Early Childhood Foundation released the first edition of the Pathways Action Map, an interactive tool that aims to drive action towards a shared vision where all North Carolina children, regardless of race, ethnicity, and socioeconomic status, are reading on grade-level by the end of third grade. The latest release of the Map features initiatives that are focused on realizing the Pathways to Grade-Level Reading (Pathways) expectation that systems are family-driven and equitable—a key step to achieving this vision.

The Action Map spotlights aligned birth-to-age-eight strategies and actions that will advance grade-level reading in North Carolina, and initiatives working to impact them. Our goal is to use the Map to build awareness of what’s happening across the state in each of the action areas, to promote collaboration among leaders, and to identify gaps and opportunities that can help guide policy making, advocacy, funding, and capacity building.

The Map is organized by four expectations for North Carolina systems serving young children and families, outlined in the Pathways Action Framework (see expectation graphic below). The first edition of the Map focused on initiatives working to ensure North Carolina’s social-emotional health system is accessible and high-quality, under Expectation 4. Now, we’re focused on actions and initiatives that help build equitable and family-driven systems, under Expectation 1. 



Focus on Families and Racial Equity

Pathways believes that North Carolina’s systems for young children and their families are built on two core strengths: engaging with and learning from families, and focusing on racial equity and cultural competence. These strengths enable systems to adapt to the needs of children and their families—ensuring that those facing the most barriers to success have access to the most supports, and providing a strong foundation for children’s development and learning. 

Over time, the Action Map will provide a snapshot of what’s happening in 44 policy and strategy areas or “actions” that Pathways partners prioritized to move the needle on grade-level reading in North Carolina. Five of these actions, listed below by strategy area, focus on ensuring North Carolina systems prioritize family engagement and leadership and racial equity. 

 Child and family systems deeply engage with and learn from families

  • Support Families in Advocating for their Children. To strengthen families’ understanding of their own power, invest in family education about how to understand and navigate through child and family systems, and be a voice—advocate—for their own and their children’s needs at child care, in school and in health care settings. 
  • Require Linked Strategies Across Programs to Engage and Learn from Families. Require child and family systems and programs to use strategies that intentionally engage and learn from families, and connect those strategies across systems and programs. Examples of such strategies could include:
    • Work with Community Groups to Reach Families Where They Are—Reach families where they are. Ask families to share their knowledge. Become familiar with and support informal community-based family networks. Build relationships with families through these networks and use their knowledge and social connections to make positive change. 
    • Involve Families in Services from the Beginning—Involve families in all steps of their children’s education and healthcare, including deciding what is most important (agenda setting), planning, implementation, and evaluation. Provide support as needed to maintain involvement. 

Child and family systems prioritize racial equity and cultural competence

  • Be Inclusive in Planning and Designing Services. Invite and support the participation of a wider range of people in policy-making conversations from the beginning. Make sure there are seats for families of color and for youth. “Design with” instead of “designing for.” 
  • Set Equity Goals. Make equity an agency-wide priority for state and local agencies by setting bold and doable equity-related goals within and across divisions that are tied to broader state and local goals and strategies. 
  • Ensure Assessment Instruments are Culturally and Linguistically Relevant. Ensure that social-emotional health and educational assessment tools can work for and be understood by many cultures and people who speak different languages (i.e., culturally and linguistically relevant), in order to ensure accurate mental health diagnoses and educational supports and services. Refer children and families to interventions and treatments known to work for people from different cultures.

Spotlighting Initiatives Leading the Work

Explore the latest edition of the Action Map to view some initiatives actively working to impact one or more of these actions in their communities and across the state. We currently have 19 initiatives mapped for Expectation 1, with others on the way. Examples of featured initiatives include:

  • Advocates for Medically Fragile Kids NC
  • Charlotte Bilingual Preschool
  • Empowered Parents in Communities
  • Family Support Network of North Carolina
  • Grown in Durham
  • ourBRIDGE for KIDS
  • Parents as Collaborative Leaders
  • Parents Encouraging and Empowering Parents 
  • Village of Wisdom

Use the Map to learn what counties these initiatives are working in, how they’re centering racial equity and community voices, what their impact has been, and more. For further information, reach out to their listed contacts. We look forward to spotlighting their work in upcoming months, as well as continuing to engage other initiatives working across North Carolina. 

Join Us in Adding to the Map

Learn more about the Action Map on our info page and consider adding your work. Share it with others in your network and community. Initiatives focused on Expectations 2 and 3 actions will be released in the next couple months. If you have any questions, or would like a guided tour of the Map, please contact us. We’d love to hear your ideas on how to best develop and use this tool to support every North Carolina child’s success.