NCECF explicitly acknowledges the impact of systemic racism and seeks to prioritize strategies, policies, and practices designed to both disrupt racism and alleviate its effects on North Carolina’s young children and families.
By equity, we are referring to:
- Ensuring that those facing the biggest barriers to success get the most resources
- Dismantling systems or aspects of systems that are only working for a segment of our population and rebuilding them to work for every child
Nationally, the case to support racial equity in early childhood is clear:
- According to the Build Initiative, the United States is becoming more diverse where 45 percent of all young children from birth to age four are children of color, and the diversity of young children will continue to grow.
- The Center for Law and Social Policy states that children of color are more likely to experience the consequences of poverty, including negative effects on their educational experience and reduced success in adulthood – because of systemic inequities in access to healthcare, education, wealth, nutrition, and housing.
- Parents of Black, Indigenous, and children of color are more likely to face employment challenges that include involuntary part-time and unfair scheduling practices such as unpredictable hours, according to the Center of the Developing Child.
In North Carolina:
- Data from the 2018-2019 school year shows that 53 percent of children in North Carolina’s public schools were non-white, a 10-percentage point increase over the 2005-06 school year when 43 percent were identified as children of color. By comparison, in 2018-19, only 21 percent of teachers were non-white, when 17 percent of teachers were identified as people of color. Children of color are not seeing a representation of themselves in leadership positions in schools and with educators they interact with on a daily basis.
- A report from EdNC shows that a disproportionate number of Black children are more likely to be suspended and expelled from preschool highlighting widespread injustice and racial inequality in our early childhood education system. In North Carolina’s public preschool programs, 47 percent of children suspended once and 73 percent of children suspended more than once were Black in 2015-2016.
- Offered a text into life-like speech conversion process of all of our blogs using Amazon Polly.
- Added alternative texts to WordPress images to help people with visual impairments understand pictures and other graphical content.
- Conducted a Performance, Accessibility, and Security (PAS) Audit with Unity Web Agency to identify any high-level accessibility issues that are present and will inform our future branding and style guide.
- Created an internal Inclusive Meeting Checklist.
Initiative-based progress at NCECF includes:
- Engaging NC Campaign for Grade-Level Reading communities in shared learning around racial equity, including how to use a racial equity lens to determine goals and guide strategy choices in their collaborative.
- Using NCECF social media to highlight racial equity issues in early childhood and lift up work led by people and communities of color.
- Supporting work to incorporate a racial equity lens and family leadership in the EarlyWell Initiative; a collaborative, cross-sector effort co-led with NC Child to develop a robust social-emotional health system for young children and their families in NC. This includes contracting with a racial equity consultant and ensuring diverse representation and leadership in workgroups.
- Facilitating the NC Early Childhood Data Advisory Council which includes data development work in areas that support equity (e.g. disaggregation of data by race/ethnicity, income, and geography)
- Co-leading a growing coalition with Black Child Development Institute to reimagine an equitable and universally accessible early care and education system
- Developing the Pathways Action Map; an online tool designed to help drive action in prioritized policy and practice areas that promote grade-level reading for all NC children, particularly children of color. The actions were identified using a racial equity lens. The Map will feature initiatives that center racial equity and community voice, particularly efforts led by leaders of color.
Some of the progress made throughout the year internally include:
- Formally adopted an Equity Action Plan with clear actions, timelines, people responsible for each action, indicators of progress and processes for monitoring and evaluation.
- Incorporated a new mission and vision statement that addresses racial equity.
- Reviewed the employee handbook and listed salaries in job descriptions for new positions.
- Collected and reported demographic data of NCECF staff and board members.
- Created an internal team to build organizational capacity and provide strategic direction.
- Gathered baseline data and information to self-identify areas for organizational change.
- Created a safe space for open dialogue to have difficult but necessary conversations.
- Publicly released NCECF’s Commitment to Racial Equity
Pathways to Grade-Level Reading continues to operationalize its grounding in racial equity through the formation and facilitation of an Early Childhood Data Advisory Council and data workgroups that are using a racial equity lens to intentionally center the needs and experiences of children of color as NC improves early childhood data collection, analysis, and use.
NCECF staff and board of directors participated in racial equity retreats with CounterPart Consulting.
Through the Pathways to Grade-Level Reading initiative, NCECF committed to using a racial equity lens to prioritize strategies that specifically work to reduce structural barriers to opportunity and well-being for children of color.
NCECF made a commitment to diversity and equity by implementing a Diversity Statement and Action Plan. These commitments elevated diversity as an organizational value and devoted NCECF to identifying and removing systemic barriers that result in inequities in children’s outcomes.
Equity Action Plan Priorities
The Equity Action Plan provides clear actions, timelines, and the people responsible for completing each of NCECF's internal racial equity priority areas.
Centering Racial Equity in Early Childhood Data and Stakeholder Engagement Work
Report on how NCECF and partners centered racial equity in collecting stakeholder feedback and improving early childhood data for the Preschool Development Grant.
Pathways Action Framework
Hundreds of North Carolina leaders have worked across sectors, geography, and the political aisle to co-create a blueprint for North Carolina to improve a key developmental milestone for young children—reading on grade-level by the end of third grade. The NC Pathways to Grade-Level Reading Action framework outlines expectations for the state’s child and family serving systems and actions to support children’s social-emotional health, ensure high quality birth-through-age-eight early learning environments, and create the conditions for every child to be in school every day.
2021-2023 NCECF Strategic Plan
A Strategic Vision for North Carolina's Children