EarlyWell Initiative

The EarlyWell Initiative exists to strengthen and enhance the infant and early childhood mental health system across North Carolina. It is a continuation of the work started by Pathways and its expectation that NC’s social-emotional health system is accessible and high-quality. Using input from NC families and other early childhood stakeholders, EarlyWell will develop a comprehensive capacity action plan with details to implement action items, some of which will overlap with the Pathways actions and some that will be new. A policy agenda will be developed from the action plan over the coming years that prioritizes policy and programmatic changes.    

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Fast Facts

Relevant Actions
State or Local? State
CountiesAll Counties
Lead Agency NC Child
Type of Lead Agency


Racial Equity Lens
  • EarlyWell hired a racial equity consultant to ensure a racial equity framework was utilized throughout the design process.
  • Steering committee members participated in a two-part racial equity training 
  • EarlyWell prioritizes the use of disaggregated data and seeks to lift up lived experience by centering family voice
Community Voice
  • EarlyWell contracted with three NC community-based organizations in 2020 to obtain family voice through interviews and surveys conducted with over 200 families from 28 NC counties. 
  • EarlyWell engaged 19 family leaders in 12 workgroups in 2021, and partnered with an agency to support initiative and family leaders throughout the process.
  • People of color are involved in EarlyWell’s leadership team and steering committee. Additionally, we worked to ensure diverse representation in our workgroups.
  • In its first year, EarlyWell created a depiction of the current system and a visionary system, developed buy-in from multiple stakeholders, and gathered everyone to the same table.
  • The impact over the next three years will be to continue striving in the same direction as a system, specifically advocating and operationalizing specific priorities to strengthen the infant and early childhood mental health system.
Next Steps
  • Develop the NC Social-Emotional Health Action Plan
  • Develop the first NC Social-Emotional Health Policy Agenda
  • Continue to center race equity and family voice
Primary Partners
  • NC Early Childhood Foundation
  • Previous Assuring Better Childhood Health and Development Advisory Group
  • Smart Start
  • State Agencies: DPH, DHHS, DCDEE, DPI
  • Clinicians
Primary Funders
  • The Duke Endowment
  • The Alliance for Early Success
  • Invest Early NC
Contact Morgan Forrester Ray

Active Counties