Early Childhood COVID-19 Timeline

CCSA created this Early Childhood COVID-19 Timeline to help mark major developments. Additionally, this timeline will help us consider how far we’ve come as we plan how to support the early childhood system in North Carolina during and after the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.

March 2020

March 3: Governor Roy Cooper announces first person in North Carolina to test positive for Coronavirus.

March 14: In response to a growing number of cases, Governor Cooper announces a two-week school closure, which includes NC Pre-K and pre-K sites in public schools. Other child care settings are encouraged to stay open to meet demand for emergency child care.

March 17: NAEYC releases preliminary results from a COVID-19 survey conducted among child care providers beginning March 12. Nationally, 30% of these respondents said they would not survive a closing longer than two weeks without financial support.

Week of March 23: CCSA launches COVID-19 Relief Fund for child care programs, in partnership with the North Carolina Smart Start network.

March 31: Deadline for private child care centers and family child care homes in North Carolina to apply to stay open as emergency providers, which they must do in order to legally operate. Programs that do not apply are considered closed and are not eligible for some funding for this reason.

April 2020

April 3: NC DHHS and DCDEE announce all subsidy payments to child care providers will be paid through March, April and May, regardless of whether the center or child care home is open or closed.

April 10: The Bipartisan Policy Center releases results from a national poll of parents and guardians of young children who used child care in the last six months. Of parents who still need to use formal care, 63% report difficulty finding care.

April 22: Harvard Center on the Developing Child publishes a statement paper titled “Thinking About Racial Disparities in COVID-19 Impacts Through a Science-Informed, Early Childhood Lens,” in light of data showing disproportionately high rates of hospitalization and severe illness for people of color.

April 28: DCDEE data shows 56% of child care centers and 30% of family child care homes have closed since January in North Carolina.

May 2020

May 1: First deadline for child care providers to apply for CCSA’s COVID-19 Relief Fund; payments to be disbursed in June.

May 1: Employees of Walmart, Target, Amazon, Instacart, Whole Foods and more walk off the job and ask customers to boycott as part of an International Workers Day strike.

May 3: Two months from the first reported case, confirmed COVID-19 cases reach 11,847, and deaths reach 452 in North Carolina.

May 4: Unemployment claims in North Carolina reach 1 million, which is 20% of the state’s workforce. So far, N.C. has made $1.27 billion in payments toward unemployment. Problems with the system persist, but since April 17, federal stimulus unemployment has been going into effect.

May 8: Governor Cooper announces Phase 1 of reopening plan. Phase 1 includes loosening of restrictions with some retail businesses reopening at reduced capacity. As a part of this phase, previously closed child care programs will be allowed to reopen serving families with working parents or parents looking for work.

May 11: As of May 11, all child care programs are licensed to reopen upon approval of an application. Any reopening child care program must follow COVID-19 NC DHHS public health guidance and commit to new licensing regulations. Some regulations that were lifted during the stay-at-home order are reinstated, such as limits on screen time for preschool-age children.

May 13: The House of Representatives passes the Health and Economic Recovery Omnibus Act, or HEROES Act, the next proposed stimulus relief package. Though the bill would provide some major relief for families, renters and citizens with student loans, it falls short for the child care field. During the bill’s drafting process, child care policy advocates and researchers created a model to propose a dollar amount needed to keep the child care system afloat for the duration of the crisis. This amount was in the ballpark of $50 billion. Yet, the Heroes Act allocates a mere $7 billion toward child care relief. The Senate is expected to vote on the bill in June at the earliest.

May 14: DCDEE announces new operational grants will be provided for child care facilities open in some or all of April, May and June to help cover losses from parent fees due to low enrollment. Depending on size, rating, subsidy and other factors, eligible centers will receive anywhere between $500 and $30,000 per month, and family child care providers will receive between $359 and $2,500 per month.

Mid-May to Early June: The Zigler Center in Child Development at the Yale University School of Medicine conducts a confidential survey of child care providers to help understand rates and causes of COVID-19 in child care settings, and estimate the potential spread caused by reopening.

May 21: Boston Consulting Group releases survey conducted in five countries including the U.S., which finds that 60% of respondents have no outside help with caring for their children, and parents now spend an average of 27 additional hours on household labor each week as opposed to before the pandemic. The bulk of this labor is falling to women, who are spending an average of 15 hours more than men on domestic work.

May 22: North Carolina enters Phase 2 of the “Safer at Home” reopening plan, which allows some restaurants to open, child care providers to serve all children, larger indoor and outdoor gatherings and events, and more. Despite this, the day after reopening, the state experienced its biggest single-day spike in cases since the beginning of the pandemic.

May 25: White Minnesota police officer Derek Chauvin kills George Floyd, a Black security officer, father and Minneapolis community member. The other three officers at the scene do not intervene. A video recording of Floyd’s murder goes viral on social media, sparking mass protests against police brutality in Minneapolis. In response to Floyd’s death and the murders of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, Tony McDade, Titi Gulley and countless others, protests erupt in every single state in the U.S. An unprecedented 2,000 cities and towns are participating in the ongoing Black Lives Matter protests, as well as more than 60 countries. Born in Fayetteville, North Carolina, George Floyd is survived by his three children. His six-year-old daughter, Gianna, can be seen speaking about her father in this video. Here and here are some resources for talking to young children about racism and police violence. The National Black Child Development institute also has a list of resources on helping children cope with racial trauma.

May 27: House Representatives Rosa DeLauro (D-CT), Bobby Scott (VA) and Patty Murray (D-WA) propose the Child Care is Essential Act, which would provide $50 billion in funding to stabilize and support the child care field. In the Senate, a companion bill is also introduced by Senators Murray, Casey, Gillibrand, Smith and Warren. The $50 Billion figure is consistent with the CLASP report referenced earlier in this timeline, which provided a state-by-state estimate of the funding needed to save the predicted 4.5 million child care slots from being lost.

May 30 through June 1: Black Lives Matter protests erupt around the state, with thousands attending marches in Raleigh, N.C., over the weekend. Police deploy tear gas and rubber bullets, and many people are arrested. The City of Raleigh establishes a curfew from 10:00 p.m. to 5:00 a.m. beginning June 1.

June 2020

First Two Weeks of June: After reviewing more than 1,000 applications in May, CCSA begins notifying recipients and releasing funds as a part of the CCSA COVID-19 Relief Fund.

June 4: The Payroll Protection Program is revised, so that borrowers have more flexibility in how they can use the loan, and the likelihood that they will receive full loan forgiveness is increased. The timeline for using the loan is increased to 24 weeks, and the deadline to rehire laid-off workers is extended until December. Previously, borrowers were struggling with the loan’s strict requirements that 75% of the funding be used toward payroll. This is now reduced to 60%.

June 11: Due to a rising number of COVID-19 cases in the state, N.C. Health Secretary Mandy Cohen warns in a press conference of the possibility of returning to a stay-at-home order if conditions do not improve.

June 14: In celebration of Pride Month and in mourning of the recent murders of Dominique “Rem’Mie” FellsRiah Milton and Tony McDade, thousands rally outside the Brooklyn Museum in New York for Black trans lives. In North Carolina, the recent murders of Black trans women Monika DiamondChanel Scurlock and Keyiariah Quick, are still fresh. Being trauma-informed and treating LGBTQIA+ providers and young children with respect and dignity is vital. The NAEYC has provided the following resource, titled "Embracing LGBTQIA+ Staff in Early Childhood Programs."

June 15: NCDHHS publishes updated Interim Guidance for Child Care Settings, which outlines updated health and safety procedures based on continuing the reopening process, and increased knowledge about COVID-19.

June 22: North Carolina Health News publishes an article about the mental health impacts for children of isolation from friends and peers. The article contains perspectives from various studies, including a systematic review published in the Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry in June, and interview quotes with several social workers.

Week of June 22: As we approach the initially proposed timeline for Phase 3 of reopening, a test positive rate of 10% and per day hospitalization rates reaching record highs in the state make it unlikely that Phase 3 will begin this week. Nearly four months after the first case in North Carolina, there have been a total of 53,840 cases, with 1,250 deaths.

Final Week of June: NC Department of Health and Human Services begins reporting COVID-19 clusters in child care and school settings. The updates are provided every Tuesday and Friday by 4 p.m.

July 2020

July 7: Early Learning Nation publishes an article stressing the necessity of intentional conversations about race for the developmental health of young children. Dr. Jacqueline Dougé urges parents not to avoid discussing differences, to encourage appropriate curiosity and to help children learn to speak up when they see discrimination. This is important work to initiate especially during a time when children are not exposed to other children and families on a regular basis. As a companion, see also this resource about supporting Black children in coping with racial trauma, published by Child Trends.

July 14: Governor Cooper announces North Carolina schools will reopen under “Plan B,” which entails in-person learning with reduced capacity, social distancing and the option of virtual learning for families who prefer it. Different options for executing “Plan B” might include rotating schedules or only teaching younger children in person. Districts may also choose to operate under “Plan C,” in which all students partake in virtual learning.

July 16: NC Department of Health and Human Services releases COVID-19 online resources for Spanish speakers. Including a symptoms guide (Comprobar Mis Síntomas), testing site locator and contract tracing tool.

July 20: Child Care Services Association opens a second round of funding for its COVID-19 relief fund.

July 24: As families prepare for a new school year, some children are beginning their kindergarten year virtually. A New America blog post offers suggestions for helping children transition to elementary school in unusual circumstances, including virtual classroom tours, orientation phone or video calls and kindergarten readiness toolkits.

July 28: North Carolina Budget and Tax Center releases a report titled “Equitably Financing Child Care in Every North Carolina County.” The report notes that “the state’s financial commitment to the child care subsidy program has declined by 538 percent since Fiscal Year 2007-2008.” The report advocates for a higher subsidy reimbursement rate that provides consistency across the state.

August 2020

August 4: NC Department of Health and Human Services reports the first death associated with a child care center in the state, a staff member at Grace Filled Beginnings in Washington County. CCSA grieves the loss of this provider and sends its condolences to the provider's family and program. Providers in need of mental health support can call the Hope4Healers helpline 24 hours a day at (919) 226-2002.

August 4: Durham PreK publishes a reopening statement with differing guidance for Durham Public Schools, private classrooms and Head Start classrooms. All DPS classrooms will be virtual for the first nine weeks, private programs will be under a hybrid model and Head Start classrooms will attend virtually with the option for in-person instruction beginning in October.

August 10-11: UNC Social Work’s Jordan Institute for Families virtually hosts a two-day conference entitled “Addressing Suspensions and Expulsions in Early Childhood: A Collective Approach Towards Equity and Justice,” in collaboration with the National Black Child Development Institute, Educational Equity Institute and Appalachian Sustainable Agriculture project. Ahead of the 2020-2021 school year, conference attendees confront the reality that not only are approximately 250 preschoolers estimated to be suspended or expelled (nationally) each day, but Black children are nearly two times more likely to be removed from their programs. Among solutions brought to the table were fair compensation for providers, more robust data collection (private programs are currently not required to provide expulsion data) and improved licensing standards to keep educator to child ratios down.

Week of August 17: North Carolina school year begins, with all school districts operating under either a reduced in-person schedule or entirely virtual learning.

August 20: North Carolina Early Education Coalition publishes policy brief, titled “North Carolina’s Child Care Crisis During COVID-19.” The brief calls on state policymakers to provide funding to a child care system “on the verge of collapse.” The most pressing priorities included continuing bonus/hazard payments for child care teachers and staff (funding ran out in May), expanding child health care consultation and technical assistance, offering emergency subsidy assistance to families on the subsidy waiting list and a second round of operating grants for child care programs.

August 31: Child Care Services Association releases the COVID-19 Relief Fund Phase I Report. In Phase I of the fund, CCSA helped approximately 700 child care providers across North Carolina. This was done in partnership with Smart Start and with the donations of Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina Foundation, the PNC Foundation, the Truist Charitable Fund, ChildTrust Foundation and other private donors.

September 2020

September 2: House Bill 1105 passes the North Carolina General Assembly. The bill allocates $35 million in child care assistance and a $335 stimulus to parents of children under 18. However, early childhood advocates raise concerns about other provisions in the bill that relax regulations and allow community organizations to operate as temporary child care sites, with little oversight. Though temporary child care arrangements can be a godsend for desperate families, licensed child care programs have the track record of safety and quality necessary to support families in the long term, and they may be harmed by this provision. The bill is currently waiting on Governor Cooper’s signature. For more information on HB 1105 and its potential to undermine public health and safety protections, visit our blog post, “Back to School: Parents of School-Age Children Scramble to Afford Care.”

September 7: As of September 7, there are 19 clusters with 279 cases of COVID-19 in child care settings in the state, resulting in two deaths.

September 8: The New York Times publishes an article about the state of COVID-19 testing for young children, describing how parents across the country are having difficulty finding testing sites that perform nasal swabs on young children. Pediatricians quoted in the article argue that there is no medical reason to avoid testing children, but that many sites aren’t comfortable performing the tests. CVS and Walgreens, some of the most popular testing sites, don’t offer testing to children under age 12 at the time the article is published (in October, Walgreens begins testing children age 3 and up, but the minimum age for CVS is still 12 years old).

September 16: The Hechinger Report profiles family child care providers in California who won the right to collective bargaining through the Building a Better Early Care and Education System Act, passed in fall 2019. In a historic vote that took place in July 2020, more than 10,000 family child care providers across the state vote to join Child Care Providers United. Across the country, family child care providers only have the right to collective bargaining in approximately one-quarter of states.

September 25: The Center for American Progress reports results from their National Survey of Registered Voters, which polled voters about child care issues ahead of the 2020 elections. About 60% of parents who responded to the study say finding child care is a “serious problem” for them, and parents with children under 6 are the most likely to have difficulty finding adequate, affordable care. Additionally, around 40% of parents say the pandemic makes it more difficult for them to find care, more than half of parents are uncomfortable sending their children to center or home-based care due to pandemic health risk and many parents experience disturbances to their ability to work or work productively. All this being said, 60% of voters surveyed want the government to take a more active role in the child care system, while 70% want increased funding for child care and early childhood education programs.

September 25: The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services renews and adjusts eligibility for the program to increase food security for children who qualify for free and reduced lunch, but may be facing difficulty accessing food during the pandemic. The program, called the Pandemic Electronic Benefit Transfer or P-EBT program, will provide families with a specific pandemic benefit on an EBT card. Children will be eligible for P-EBT if they receive free and reduced-price meals and if their school district or charter school had remote learning for five days between August 17 and September 30, 2020. The program was previously available to all children who qualified for free and reduced lunch, regardless of whether their school used online learning.

October 2020

October 2: CCSA publishes the 2019 North Carolina Child Care Workforce Study and county-level reports, which give context to the state of the early childhood workforce right before the pandemic. With funding from DCDEE, CCSA collected data from programs in every county across the state. This report summarizes key findings from the directors, teachers, assistant teachers and family child care providers who participated. The study found that statewide, early care and education staff make an average of $12 per hour, directors average $19.23 per hour and family child care providers average just $9.09. Despite rising levels of both education and experience, wages remain low, and right before the start of a pandemic, 21% of teaching staff had no health insurance from any source.

October 2: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar renews his declaration of a national public health emergency due to COVID-19 for the third time since his initial determination in January 2020. This allows several federal emergency COVID-19 response and relief policies to continue, including Medicaid funding increases and flexibility.

October 8: The Georgetown University Health Policy Institute publishes a report about the dramatic increase in the rate of children without health insurance between 2018 and 2019. This is the largest increase in more than 10 years, and will likely soon be dwarfed by 2019 to 2020 coverage losses due to pandemic-related employment and income loss. According to NC Child, an estimated 142,000 children in North Carolina had no coverage in 2019, ranking North Carolina as one of 10 states with the highest rates of uninsured children in the country.

October 19: CCSA’s COVID-19 Relief Fund releases Phase II grants to child care programs impacted by the pandemic, after receiving nearly 600 applications with requests for more than $1.5 million in total. The Relief Fund supports the immediate and long-term needs of child care programs as they serve children of families returning to work, as well as essential workers on the front lines. The Relief Fund is made possible by contributions from the Blue Cross Blue Shield Foundation, the PNC Foundation, Truist Charitable Fund, the ChildTrust Foundation and many private donations.

November 2020

November 3: Record numbers of voters turn out for the 2020 presidential election, either in person or by absentee ballot, early voting or on Election Day. Two-thirds (66.3%) of eligible voters turn out, which is the largest percentage of the electorate to vote since 1908. In addition to choosing a presidential candidate, voters decide key down-ballot races at the federal, state and local levels.

November 7: After an initially close race and a slow vote-counting process because of the massive increase in absentee voting during the pandemic, it takes longer than usual to report an election result. However, on November 7, the presidential race is called and Joe Biden becomes the 46th president-elect, and Kamala Harris the 49th vice president-elect of the United States. Harris made history as the first woman of color, and first woman in general, to be elected to the office of vice president. In combination with the results of Senate and House races, the balance of power in the federal executive and legislative branches shifts to democratic control.

November 17: Governor Roy Cooper launches new color-coded COVID alert system that will show which counties have the most severe COVID spread and how they compare to other counties in the state. Counties will rank red (critical community spread), orange (substantial community spread) or yellow (significant community spread) depending on rate of new cases, percent of positive tests and hospital capacity in the county.

November 23: Governor Roy Cooper announces a stricter mask mandate, implemented through Executive Order 180, which goes into effect November 25. The mandate requires the wearing of a mask or face covering when in the presence of anyone not in your immediate household. The new rule establishes that masks must be worn in all indoor settings, even when 6 feet of distance or greater is possible. Large businesses must also have an employee near store entrances enforcing mask-wearing.

December 2020

December 3: At the end of the year, approximately 90% of child care programs are open. Though this is a good sign, some experts are concerned about the possibility of a delayed outcome in the spring if relief funding runs out and cases continue to climb. Even though most programs have not permanently closed, enrollment is down significantly, sitting at about 60%.

December 8: Due to a significant amount of cases, such that more than 80% of states are in the “orange” (substantial community spread) or “red” (critical community spread) categories, Governor Roy Cooper announces new stay-at-home order, including a curfew. The new curfew will be implemented December 11, 2020, and North Carolina residents must stay at home between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m. until at least January 8, 2021.

December 11: NC Division of Child Development and Early Education releases the updated ChildCareStrongNC Public Health Toolkit that provides guidance in child care settings. The updated toolkit includes a new requirement related to face coverings for children ages 5 and older. All children 5 and older are now required to wear masks in school and child care settings. Exceptions apply in situations where it may be difficult or unsafe for a child to wear a face-covering for medical or developmental reasons.

December 11-18: The FDA issues emergency use authorization for use of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine and distribution begins within 24 hours. A few days later on December 18, the FDA also authorizes the Moderna vaccine. In clinical trials, both vaccines showed more than 94% effectiveness in preventing COVID infection. The vaccine rollout schedule will take place in several phases, with healthcare workers, residents of long-term care facilities, elderly people, essential workers and people with risk factors for increased mortality of the virus being able to receive the vaccine first.

December 16: CCSA publishes the COVID-19 Relief Fund Phase II report. In Phase II of the Relief Fund, CCSA was able to provide more substantial grants to 41 child care programs across the state. The average program received $3,384 to help them purchase cleaning supplies, PPE, training, self-care programming and supplies and more. The report details the impact of these grants and includes testimonials from several child care programs that received grants from the fund.

December 17: The North Carolina Early Childhood Foundation publishes the results of their survey of working parents with young children in North Carolina, conducted in October 2020. Their report describes how the pandemic has intensified pre-existing struggles for parents to access affordable child care and changed some parents’ relationships to work entirely, requiring parents to work outside normal business hours, alternate with one another or take paid or unpaid leave. The lost household income from changes in employment status due to the pandemic averages about 20%, and 30% of parents report their financial problems were “major” or “extreme.”

December 27: The Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act is signed into law, which allocates $900 billion in COVID-19 relief funding. The act implements a second round of the Paycheck Protection Program, provides a boost to unemployment benefits and includes direct $600 payments to individuals making less than $75,000 per year. Significantly, the bill allocates $10 billion to the Child Care Development Block Grant to help families pay for child care and assist providers who are experiencing pandemic-related financial strain. North Carolina will receive an estimated $338 million of the $10 billion. CCSA breaks down the details for families and providers in a blog featuring two reports.

December 31, 2020: The year ends on a somber note, with a record COVID-19 death toll reported for the second day in a row (3,740 deaths). Experts predict the total count will reach 424,000 deaths across the country by January 23, 2021. The sharp rise in cases is partially due to the impact of gatherings for the winter holidays, though the full effect of these gatherings won’t be known for weeks. In North Carolina, 6,715 cases are reported, with 3,481 North Carolinians currently hospitalized.

January 2021

January 6, 2021: The U.S. Capitol building is stormed while Congress attempts to certify the results of the 2020 presidential election inside. The event amplifies serious concerns about the rise of white nationalism and the role of government and political figures in advancing it. The attack is the first time that the U.S. Capitol has been breached since the War of 1812, and the riot is considered a violent effort to overturn the results of the election. The attack is preceded by a Trump rally, after which attendees of the rally breach the Capitol grounds. The house floor is breached at 2:16 p.m., a minute after the evacuation of all members of Congress is complete.

January 14: After slower than desirable vaccine distribution partially due to what experts call “the last mile problem,” the federal government releases new vaccine distribution guidance and many states begin adjusting their vaccine distribution plans. N.C. health officials announce the three formally announced phases for vaccine eligibility are changing to five groups. Group One is health care workers and people living in residential facilities; the second group is all adults ages 65 or older; the third is essential workers; the fourth is adults with increased risk for COVID-19 infection due to pre-existing conditions, illnesses or disabilities; and the fifth group is anyone who would like to receive a vaccine. Distribution for Group One is ongoing, but NCDHHS announced that Group Two is now eligible to receive the vaccine.

January 20-22: President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris are inaugurated and given the oath of office. In his first three days in office, President Biden signs 30 executive orders, among them implementing mandatory masking on federal property, raising the federal employee minimum wage to $15 per hour, increasing vaccination supplies and re-vamping vaccine distribution efforts, requiring visitors to the U.S. to provide proof of a negative COVID-19 test on arrival, and more.

January 26: In North Carolina as of January 26, 2021, at least 723,445 people are tested positive for COVID-19, with 8,720 deaths since March 2020. With the new, more contagious strain identified in Mecklenburg County, North Carolinians are gearing up for a difficult end to the winter months and beginning of spring. State officials report a plan to open a mass vaccination site in Durham County in early February.

February 2021

February: North Carolina’s “child health grades” for 2020 have fallen, according to the Child Health Report Card published annually by NC Child. The state receives an “F” on indicators of mental health, tobacco, alcohol and substance use, birth outcomes and housing and economic security. Health insurance coverage was high with a grade of “A.”

February 3: A project of the Southern Poverty Law Center, the former “Teaching Tolerance,” changes its name to Learning for Justice. The project began 30 years ago to address racism, ableism, homophobia, gender-based violence and other forms of harm and discrimination by “fighting intolerance in schools.” The name change came about as the mission of the organization evolved from “prevent[ing] the growth of hate” to “center[ing] justice” rather than simply tolerance. Their website has a wealth of resources for educators and families, including lessons, learning plans, teaching strategies and more. Many lesson plans are designed or can be adapted for pre-K settings.

February 10: With a limited supply of vaccines becoming available to providers beginning February 24, NC DHHS publishes the document: How Child Care Programs Can Help Get Child Care Staff Vaccinated. Vaccines for child care providers became available two weeks before it was available for other frontline workers (March 3). Though much of the information in the linked document is outdated at the time this timeline was written, the document still provides useful information for providers about how to encourage their employees to get vaccinated, including an email template and links to flyers, factsheets, graphics and FAQs about the vaccine.

February 11: WRAL reports North Carolina’s first case of the more contagious variant of COVID, first discovered in South Africa in October 2020. The strain, called B.1.351, is more contagious but does not appear to be more deadly or cause more severe illness. Data from the end of January suggest the Moderna vaccine still produces an immune response against the South African variant and other more contagious variants, though not as well. Booster shots to better protect against these variants are in the works as of May 2021.

February 16: The Hechinger Report publishes a story about the toll of the pandemic on the child care system and how this will affect child care options post-COVID. Without enough of a safety net, thousands of centers closed nationwide. Still, others are hanging on by a thread, and staying in business long term is not feasible.

February 24: Durham PreK Application opens for the 2021-2022 school year. All families living in Durham County with a child that will be 4 years old by August 31, 2021, are eligible. Durham PreK is a local investment in public preschool for 4-year-olds by the Durham County Government. Built to enhance and expand the state-funded NC Pre-K program, Durham PreK is open to all children in Durham County and will grow incrementally over time to meet the full community need for publicly supported high-quality early education. Parents can fill out the application online or call 1-833-773-5338 to speak with the Bilingual Durham PreK information desk.

February 24: The Center for the Study of Child Care Employment publishes the 2020 Early Childhood Workforce Index. This biennial report “track[s] state policies in essential areas like workforce qualifications, work environments, and compensation.” On the linked page above, you can find the “State Explorer,” which allows the viewer to click on an interactive map to look at a profile for each state. The available state stats include information on early educator pay, workforce policies and family and income support policies.

March 2021

March 3: Frontline essential workers, Group 3, are eligible to be vaccinated. Though child care workers became eligible two weeks before, the improved supply means far more providers will be able to be vaccinated after this date.

March 11: President Biden signs the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan into law. The bill includes funding to mitigate the ongoing effects of the pandemic in several categories, including direct assistance to individuals, businesses and families, education and child care, health, transportation and more. The bill also includes several changes that will make health insurance more cost accessible for individuals and families purchasing insurance coverage through the federal marketplace. The new changes will reduce the cost of premiums for individuals who already have coverage, meaning four out of five current healthcare.gov consumers will be able to find a health plan for $10 per month. To learn more about the plan’s impact on health insurance coverage, read this article written by CCSA President Marsha Basloe.

March 29: North Carolina Health News reports on a new program at UNC to increase the number of Black doulas in the state, in part to address the high rate of pregnancy-related deaths of Black parents (about three times that of white people who give birth). Doula support is shown to reduce the rate of cesarean sections, increase breastfeeding and improve emotional well-being during birth, which can oftentimes be traumatic for Black parents to navigate due to medical racism. The program will pay for doula training in full for 20 Black women in the Triangle.

April 2021

April 5: Three Republicans in the North Carolina state legislature introduced a bill that would cut off access to gender confirmation surgery for trans people under age 21. Click to read more about how transphobic violence and anti-trans legislation harm trans kids. To more broadly learn about creating safe classroom environments for LGBTQIA+ children and families, see the following resources from the Head Start Early Childhood Learning and Knowledge Center.

April 8: Following the release of body cam footage showing two police officers harassing a 5-year-old outside his elementary school in Maryland, the National Black Child Development Institute’s Vice President of Policy, William Dunbar, comments on the criminalization of Black children, saying “This inhumane treatment is reminiscent of Jim Crow…an educational institution that should be a safe haven for children and police who are supposed to serve and protect…were harmful, destructive, and reprehensible.” In March, a Black 6-year-old boy is arrested and taken to court for picking a tulip from a yard next to a North Carolina bus stop. From 2015 through 2018, 7,300 juvenile justice complaints are filed against 6- to 11-year-old children. Of these complaints, 47% are against Black children, even though only 22% of the state’s population is Black. Nationwide, while only 18% of preschoolers are Black, half of preschool suspensions are Black children.

April 13: Due to six cases of rare blood clots out of millions of doses, the Johnson & Johnson vaccine is paused by the CDC and FDA while an advisory committee investigates the vaccine’s safety.

April 21: Following the guilty verdict in the Derek Chauvin case and the police murder of Ma’khia Bryant, the National Black Child Development Institute releases a statement, saying “We are tired and beyond frustrated with the way Black children are being treated by law enforcement. Our babies do not have the opportunity to grow into Black men and women…We must continue to fight for a justice system that fully recognizes our humanity.” Close to home in North Carolina, Durham psychologist Dr. Ashly Gaskin Wasson shares how she helps her patients cope with racial trauma: “Activism is a way in which people can counter that sense of powerlessness…People can use their time, talent, and resources.” She urges parents and educators to speak with children about their feelings and fears.

April 22: Think Babies releases the State of Babies Yearbook 2021. The report looks at nationwide and statewide data about infants and toddlers and compares various indicators of well-being. At the link above, you can view your state’s data and compare indicators in categories such as “good health,” “strong families” and “positive early learning experiences.” You will also find resources to help you advocate for policies that improve the well-being of infants and toddlers on the ‘Take Action’ tab.

April 23: The FDA approves states to resume administering the Johnson & Johnson vaccine after data shows blot clotting is very rare, and receiving the vaccine is exponentially safer than remaining unvaccinated.

April 26: CCSA’s Board publishes letter to N.C. Senators and Representatives about their concerns with the Hold Harmless Star Ratings Bill. The first section of the bill would waive the requirement for child care programs to keep a critical level of staff in order to maintain their star rating. At the same time, the bill would also lower education requirements for teachers and staff. Advocates argue that experience and education is necessary for quality child care, and that the real solution to the turnover crisis is better compensation.

May 2021

Beginning of May: The N.C. legislature is meeting until the end of June to finalize the state budget with state funds and federal COVID-19 relief dollars. Advocates and advocacy groups, including Child Care Services Association and the North Carolina Early Education Coalition, amplify the voices of child care providers fighting for a worthy wage. CCSA publishes a blog about it being long past time our early childhood teachers earned worthy wageJoin the fight.

May 5: The North Carolina Early Education Coalition hosts Worthy Wages Celebration and Day of Action, featuring special guest speakers Governor Roy Cooper, Ariel Ford from NC DCDEE, Rep. Ashton Clemmons, Rep. Julie von Haefen and Sen. Mike Woodard. You can watch Gov. Cooper’s video here and the full celebration video here.

May 7: North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper declares May 7 officially in the state as Child Care Provider Appreciation Day, which occurs yearly on the Friday before Mother’s Day and celebrates the work of child care providers and educators of young children. The day is celebrated nationally, and parents and organizations can support providers by sharing words of appreciation, working with children to create a card or gift, sponsoring classroom materials or a day off for providers, planning a lunch or dinner honoring providers and more. CCSA is grateful to all child care providers for building the brains of our future. Thank you.

May 13: Vaccines are approved for children ages 12 to 15, which means approximately 17 million children in the U.S. are now eligible. Getting vaccinated is a step toward normality for children, with in-person learning disruptions and not being able to socialize with friends having taken a toll.

May 17-18: The N.C. Division of Child Development and Early Education announces a public hearing to discuss the Child Care Development Fund State Plan for fiscal years 2022-2024. The hearings take place May 17 and 18. Comments are welcomed by members of the public, and the plan can be viewed at the hyperlink above. Every three years, states propose a plan for the use of the federal funds allotted by the Child Care and Development Block Grant Act. These funds help increase access to child care for low-income children and families.

May 19: Governor Roy Cooper shares his recommendations for how North Carolina can most effectively invest in its recovery through the American Rescue Plan. The $5.7 billion in federal funds offer a once-in-a-generation opportunity to invest in North Carolina and ensure a shared recovery from the global pandemic. In order to meet North Carolina’s constitutional obligation to provide a sound, basic education for all students, Governor Cooper recommends investing $300 million to build the educator pipeline, expand NC Pre-K, support high-quality child care and promote early literacy development. The funds will develop a skilled educator pipeline and build educator capacity, support Science of Reading literacy coaches and build a strong foundation for North Carolina’s children aged birth to 5 by expanding NC Pre-K and investing in home-based early childhood literacy interventions. View his entire recommendation in detail here.

Check back quarterly for updates to this timeline.