Accomplishments and Anticipation

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Reflecting on a year of promoting public understanding, spearheading collaboration, and advancing policies at NCECF

The NCECF team is full of gratitude at the close of 2023, looking back on a big year for the organization’s programs, and anticipating some exciting changes in 2024. Here are three big wins we’re celebrating from this year, as well as some news about our growing and dynamic team.

As we look back at 2023 and ahead to 2024, we hope you’ll consider a gift to the NC Early Childhood Foundation to continue this important work and build on our momentum into the new year. Click here to make your year-end contribution.

Family-Friendly Employers

Thanks to the incredible work of our Family Forward NC initiative, more than 6,000 North Carolinians now work for 36 employers that are Family Forward NC Certified. We were beyond thrilled that this fall, the City of Greensboro became the first metro city in North Carolina to become Family Forward Certified. We announced this huge accomplishment in a press conference with City Manager Taiwo Jaiyeoba in October. 

In 2024 we will expand the Family Forward NC to certify many more employers across the state, building brighter futures for babies together. Additional employers from around the state who were certified this fall include:

  • The Children’s Council of Watauga County, Inc.
  • Dogwood Health Trust
  • City of Greensboro
  • Smart Start of Forsyth County
  • NC Budget & Tax Center
  • Aeroflow Healthcare
  • Delta Dental of North Carolina

Want to get your workplace NC Family Forward certified? Learn more here. 

Building the Campaign for Babies’ and Young Children’s Mental Health 

In collaboration with NC Child, NCECF hosted a Coalition kick-off meeting for the EarlyWell Initiative on October 5th in Chapel Hill. During the meeting we welcomed many new members to the initiative’s work, took a look at the EarlyWell journey since 2019, and presented the 2023-2025 policy priorities while engaging members in discussions about next steps. NC Health News featured EarlyWell’s vision in an article on October 17, 2023. EarlyWell’s work was also featured in this recently published national article on Infant and Early Childhood Mental Health and Medicaid.

We’re so excited for the next phase in EarlyWell’s journey as a coalition moving forward with a bold advocacy agenda. EarlyWell is built on enacting recommendations from the Pathways to Grade-Level Reading Action Framework and strives to build a robust, evidence-based, and accessible early childhood mental health system in North Carolina.

Pathways to Grade-Level Reading: New Toolkits

In 2022, just 46% of North Carolina children could read well by the end of third grade, with massive discrepancies by race and ethnicity. Third grade reading is a powerful indicator of children’s health, development, and lifelong academic and economic success. Pathways to Grade-Level Reading continues to be a rich source of data and policy information for stakeholders seeking to bring all North Carlolina’s children up to grade-level reading. 

This fall we released three new toolkits in the Pathways initiative: 

Toolkit 1: Strengthening North Carolina’s Earlycare and Learning System in ways that are Responsive to the State’s Cultural Diversity 

Toolkit 2: Attendance is Key to Maximizing the Benefits of North Carolina’s Investments in High Quality Early Learning Environments

Toolkit 3: Increasing Child Care Availability and Accessibility

In 2024 we’ll be bringing you the final two toolkits in the series. Stay tuned!

Organizational News

We said farewell to our beloved Executive Director Muffy Grant in November, and have just announced a search for the organization’s next leader (read more here). In the meantime, we welcomed an old friend as our Interim Executive Director: Fawn Pattison has been a frequent collaborator with NCECF over the years, and will manage the organization through transition until the search is completed. Please help us spread the word and find our next visionary leader!

In 2023 we also said thanks and farewell to Research & Data Associate Fowota Mortoo, and Communications Manager Lindsay Saunders. We also brought a fantastic new staff member: Policy and Practice Leader Micere Keels. She is a brilliant, dynamic colleague and we’re thrilled to have her on board. 

Thank you to all the partners, friends, and sponsors who helped NCECF celebrate our 10th anniversary this fall. Together we are building better communities for our youngest learners across North Carolina.

Keep in Touch with NCECF and Support Our Work

Please be sure to subscribe to our biweekly newsletter and consider making a donation today to start 2024 off strong by helping us transform the lives of North Carolina families, from their earliest days, while also supporting a small growing, family-friendly team. 

The NC Early Childhood Foundation is driven by a bold – and achievable – vision: Each North Carolina child has a strong foundation for life-long health, education, and well-being supported by a comprehensive, equitable prenatal-to-eight ecosystem. We build understanding, lead collaboration, and advance policies to ensure each North Carolina child is on track for lifelong success by the end of third grade.