Parents and early educators guide CandL’s vision for a more equitable early care & learning system

Voiced by Amazon Polly

Recap of CandL’s May 2024 briefing for stakeholders

In May 2024, the Care and Learning Coalition (CandL) brought together stakeholders from around the state to share an update and opportunities to make our voices heard for child care and early learning in North Carolina. 

To kick off the briefing, Dr. Devonya Govan-Hunt shared a poem, “Why can’t you hear me?” from Ben Becker & Cheri Usmar:

Why can’t you hear me? I feel like I’m screaming

If I’m speaking clearly, maybe you’re just not listening

Oh, why can’t you, why can’t you hear me

What CandL has heard from families and child care providers across the state is that they feel like they’re screaming about the crisis in child care, yet not being heard. CandL’s central aim is to listen to those most directly impacted. Throughout all of CandL’s work, it is the voices of these families and early educators that guide us, and we hope will guide our decision-makers, as we try to reimagine a more equitable child care system for North Carolina. 

Watch the full briefing here in English or Spanish.










The Care and Learning Coalition, or CandL, is a statewide coalition whose goal is to put quality, affordable childcare within reach for all North Carolina’s families, whatever their income or background. CandL seeks to ensure that early education teachers are paid fair wages, and childcare providers earn enough to be sustainable in every community. Together with parents and teachers, we are reimagining an early childhood education system that truly meets the needs of the families it serves.

Take action: Make your voice heard for child care funding 

At the CandL briefing, representatives shared a timely call to action on the “child care funding cliff.” Estimates are that over 100,000 young children in North Carolina are at risk of losing their spot in early learning programs this year, as federal relief funds disappear. Our partners at the NC Early Education Coalition are calling on state legislators to step in and fund child care stabilization grants for another year. Please use this quick action link to make your voice heard! 

What CandL has accomplished so far

In 2022-23, CandL conducted a 34-county listening tour across North Carolina to hear the voices and stories of those who have been historically marginalized to help the community and policy-makers better understand the barriers to accessing quality, affordable early care and education. 










CandL partnered with community organizations to hear and be guided by the experiences of parents and child care providers in each community. The graphic above shows where briefings were held and who made up the expert voices participating. Participants represented the diversity of those served by and serving in the early childhood care and education sphere – both families and early educators. 

Family & Community Engagement Team

In 2023, members of the Family & Community Engagement Team, including early educators and parents, participated in a rigorous series of conversations that included reviewing data from statewide listening sessions, analyzing the data through a race-explicit, intersectional equity lens, generating ideas about equity-centered changes to the early care and education system, and translating those ideas into vision and “desired results” for how equity can be advanced. 

As the campaign moves forward, the Family & Community Engagement Team will be responsible for ensuring that the voices of those most impacted continue to be heard, and that parents and providers continue to be engaged and supported to speak their own truths and advocate for a child care & early education system that is responsive to their needs. 

What’s next? Developing a robust advocacy campaign

The insights that CandL captured on the Listening Tour will allow the coalition to advocate for increased access to safe, affordable, equitable, high-quality care for all NC children. Our work will contribute to exposing systems that do not support racial equity, and dismantling those systems as we develop a long-term advocacy campaign to rebuild a quality, affordable early care and education system that is inclusive, equitable, and culturally responsive.

Get Involved with CandL

Are you interested in getting involved? CandL invites you to join the Family & Community Engagement Team, or the Policy Team, to help build a better early education and care system for all children in our state. Contact Project Manager Shanda Sumpter to get involved.

Statewide collaborators

NCECF co-leads CandL together with Black Child Development Institute of the Carolinas (BCDI-C) and Empowered Parents in Community (EPiC). CandL partners serving on the Family & Community Engagement Team, and the Policy Team include many individual child care providers, early educators, and parents, as well as representatives from organizations including MomsRising, NC Domestic Workers Alliance, NC Child, NC Partnership for Children, Western NC Early Childhood Coalition, NC Early Education Coalition, Equity Before Birth, NC Budget & Tax Center, and Leading on Opportunity.

Many thanks to the Blue Cross Blue Shield NC Foundation for their ongoing support of CandL, as well as to the Dogwood Health Trust for their support of the listening tour in Western NC.