Community Foundation funds early childhood development projects
Two $75,000 Early Childhood Development (ECD) grants were approved last week to Region A Partnership for Children (RAPC) and Southwestern Child Development Commission (SCDC).
Early Childhood Development is a focus area for the Foundation, which serves 18 counties in Western North Carolina.
RAPC is the non-profit organization that administers North Carolina’s Smart Start and NC Pre-K initiatives in the seven westernmost counties and on the Qualla Boundary. Funding will expand the Parents as Teachers program in Cherokee, Clay, Graham, Haywood, Jackson, Macon and Swain counties.
Parents as Teachers (PAT) is a family support program widely used by Smart Start in Region A. Participating families benefit from home visits, group connections, child screenings and a resource network – the core components of PAT. Eligibility requirements are less restrictive than with other models, and there is strong evidence of success. Data shows reduced welfare dependence and increases in positive parenting practices, identification of developmental delays, physical and social development and school readiness. The program’s flexibility makes it possible to serve a wider range of families with limited funding and to coordinate the effort across counties with a variety of agencies and organizations.
SCDC, a private nonprofit headquartered in Webster, NC, provides quality early care and education in seven western counties and provides or coordinates child care resource and referral services in 13 western counties. The grant to SCDC will educate and engage stakeholders with the goal of improving access to quality, affordable early childhood care and education.
Children living in poverty often do not receive the enrichment that quality childcare provides in the crucial first 2,000 days of life, and, for many families, quality, dependable child care is an unaffordable luxury without the financial aid of child care vouchers. SCDC will partner with Children First/Communities in Schools of Buncombe County, Mountain Area Child and Family Center, Children & Family Resource Center of Henderson County and Pisgah Legal Services to advocate for a more transparent, fair and sustainable child care subsidy allocations process, train providers and parents to advocate for expanded access to quality early childhood education for low-income families and host county roundtables to enhance collaboration and reduce gaps in service during the first 2000 days of children’s lives.
The goal of the Foundation’s ECD work is to improve education and developmental outcomes for children, particularly at-risk children not in formal early childhood programs. The issue resonates with CFWNC fundholders, and the Lipscomb Family Foundation Fund chose to co-invest significantly in both grants.
“In the last four years we have witnessed substantial cuts to early childhood programs, and there is no sign that this trend is reversing,” said Philip Belcher, CFWNC Vice President for Programs. “We know that investing in quality learning experiences during the early years is economically efficient and more cost effective than remediation efforts. Our intent is that these grants – one focused on program expansion and one utilizing an advocacy strategy - will help to make high-quality early care and education possible for more families in the region and will improve outcomes for some of our youngest residents.”
In 2011, The Community Foundation adopted a new strategic plan that focuses discretionary resources on People in Need, Early Childhood Development, Food and Farming and Preserving Natural and Cultural Resources.
The Community Foundation is a permanent regional resource serving eighteen counties in Western North Carolina. Foundation staff leverage knowledge about the region and relationships with donors to enrich lives and communities in the region. The Foundation facilitates $11 million in charitable giving annually. More information can be found at www.cfwnc.org.