Blog

By Marsha Basloe, President of CCSA

As businesses throughout North Carolina re-open their doors, parents will be returning to work. For parents with young children, access to affordable, quality child care will be critical – not just to support the ability of parents to return to work, but also to ensure that children are in a safe setting that promotes their healthy development.

While the state gradually moves toward re-opening in stages, it is far from returning to business as usual. As of May 28, more than 25,400 individuals in North Carolina had tested positive for COVID-19, 708 individuals were hospitalized and 827 individuals have died.[1] The release of the April unemployment data last week shows more than 573,000 individuals statewide are unemployed.[2] 

The curve may be flatter, but a vaccine for COVID-19 is unlikely any time soon and there remains no cure or treatment to date. As parents return to the workforce, one thing is clear: anxiety about COVID-19 exposure remains high. A recent nationwide poll from the Bipartisan Policy Center found that among parents with children under age 5, their top concern about returning to work and using child care is exposure of their children to COVID-19 (75 percent), higher than concerns related to affordability (46 percent) or the likelihood that their child care program will be open (47 percent).[3]

What Other States are Doing

In a live Zoom webinar on May 28, “State Child Care Administrator Forum COVID-19: What Worked, What Didn’t, What’s Next,” 10 state child care administrators from throughout the country shared their experiences and insight, including Susan Perry, the Chief Deputy Secretary, NC Department of Health and Human Services.[4]

All of the child care administrators expressed concern about the economic model for child care currently and in the year(s) ahead. All mentioned the importance of child care for parents returning to work and expressed concern about the economic viability of sustaining an adequate supply. Many mentioned a renewed interest by parents in family child care homes, a shift from prior parent preferences for center-based care for their children.

Child care administrators thought the shift in parent preferences was related to continued anxiety about COVID-19 in larger group centers, and a possible preference for smaller family child care settings in the neighborhood with no commute necessary and a small known group of families.

The Kentucky child care administrator, Sarah Vanover, shared her experience with five new pilot programs in that state involving networks of family child care (FCC) providers. It was inspiring to hear about networking family child care providers with a staffed hub of services (e.g., providing backend services such as billing or business technical assistance to support best business practices, other professional development supports to meet the needs of children of various ages and offering culturally responsive approaches to learning).

Another FCC home-based network that was underway involves a partnership with employers. In several communities, the state has supported a network of family child care homes to meet employer needs so human resource administrators in local companies can refer employees to one of the networked homes.

Staffed family child care networks are not new. It may be time to re-invest in them.

Throughout the past decade, family child care homes have declined by more than 20 percent.[5] Over the years, given the strength of the economy, most jobs have paid more than working in child care. As a result, many home-based providers left the field. In addition, a focus on serving larger numbers meant the growth of larger centers. However, in today’s economy and given the anxiety about COVID-19 exposure, it may very well be time for the re-emergence of licensed family child care homes.

A smaller environment with more flexible hours, a neighborhood location and the ability to meet the needs of families (e.g., siblings can be cared for together) often are characteristic of family child care. What staffed family networks can offer is an ongoing menu of support related to predictors of high quality such as licensing, professional support, training, financial resources, business and administrative support, materials and equipment and the ability for providers to share experiences, which reduces the isolation of individual family child care home providers.[6]

The vast majority of home-based providers care for children younger than age 5 and are more likely to care for infants and toddlers than center-based programs.[7] A number of studies have examined the relationship of family child care home network affiliation and quality caregiving and found that participating home-based providers offer higher quality care.[8]

Support In North Carolina

In North Carolina, Child Care Resource and Referral Agencies (CCR&R) have operated a strong Infant Toddler Quality Enhancement Program statewide, coordinated by CCSA, since 2004.[9] With additional resources for Infant Toddler Quality and Core Technical Assistance services[10], CCR&R agencies could expand to support staffed family child care networks, including incentives and additional support to start a licensed family home-based child care business, offer care during nontraditional hours and better support special needs children. Southwestern Child Development Commission has a Family Child Care Home (FCCH) Project[11] for the CCR&R network and a FCCH Spotlight that will highlight FCCH providers that are doing amazing things across the state of North Carolina!

Resources

There are resources available and more are being developed to support these efforts. Self-Help’s Child Care Business Basics course[12] can help family child care homes succeed as child-care business owners. Opportunities Exchange[13] supports the business of early care and education to improve child outcomes.

NC ECE Shared Resources[14] already offers a statewide online shared services platform that includes a family child care toolkit with a robust array of resources upon which staffed family child care networks could expand.

North Carolina’s Path Forward

What is clear is that the path forward needs to reflect parent preferences as they emerge. Staffed family child care networks are working in other states; it’s time for North Carolina to invest in them as well. There is no one-size-fits-all approach to child care, but offering parents a menu of options, particularly in our nation’s current public health emergency, makes sense. 


[1] NCDHHS, COVID-19 public dashboard.

[2] NC Department of Commerce, North Carolina’s April Employment Figures Released, May 22, 2020.

[3] Bipartisan Policy Center, Nationwide Survey: Child Care in the Time of Coronavirus, April 10, 2020.

[4] Bipartisan Policy Center, “State Child Care Administrator Forum COVID-19: What Worked, What Didn’t, What’s Next?”, May 28, 2020.

[5] National Center on Early Childhood Quality Assurance, Addressing the Decreasing Number of Family Child Care Providers in the United States, 2019.

[6] National Center on Early Childhood Quality Assurance, Staffed Family Child Care Networks: A Research-Informed Strategy for Supporting High-Quality Family Child Care, 2017.

[7] Ibid.

[8] Ibid.

[9] NC Infant and Toddler Quality Enhancement Project

[10] NC CCR&R Services

[11] FCC Spotlight

[12] Self Help

[13] Opportunities Exchange

[14] NC ECE Shared Resources

By Marsha Basloe, President of CCSA

Text Box:

Like other small businesses throughout North Carolina, child care programs have been hit hard during the COVID-19 public health emergency. As of April, about half of the child care programs statewide had closed.[1] For the half of programs that were open, enrollment of children was far below prior levels upon which the child care business model was based.

For example, in April, among the 53 percent of child care centers that were open, centers reported average vacancy rates of 68-70 percent of capacity.[2] Among the 88 percent of family child care homes that were open at that time, average vacancy rates ranged from 37-41 percent.[3]

Prior to COVID-19, about 41,000 teachers and staff worked in child care.[4] In April, 20,000 child care staff were working on-site, indicating layoffs or furloughs of about half of the individuals working in child care.[5] Even in May, vacancy rates in N.C. were still high. [6]

How Short-time Compensation Programs Work

The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act included federal funds for states to operate short-time compensation (STC) programs, also referred to as work sharing programs.[7] These programs are a partnership between states and employers. Conceptually, the way STC programs work is that through state legislation (or an agreement between state labor agencies such as North Carolina’s Department of Commerce), employers can enter into an agreement to reduce hours in lieu of laying off staff. Employees would receive lower earnings based on fewer hours, but they could combine their earnings with a percentage of their unemployment compensation. In addition, since the CARES Act included a temporary federal supplement to state unemployment compensation of $600 per week (through July 31, 2020), employees participating in a short-time compensation program could also receive the weekly supplement.[8] 

For example, if a child care center cut the hours for staff working 40 hours per week to 32 hours, that’s a 20 percent reduction in hours. Under an STC program, staff would receive earnings from their 32 hours plus 20 percent of their unemployment compensation plus the weekly supplement (through July 31, 2020). That supports the child care teacher, the child care program and unemployment payments.

Another benefit of STC programs for child care centers is that it helps them retain a connection to their workforce to ramp operations back up as parents return to work. A benefit to employees is that, to the extent employers offer health insurance coverage or retirement benefits, while hours can be reduced, employers must continue paying for health care and retirement benefits. For states, it is far less expensive to pay partial unemployment for individuals compared to paying full benefits. And, both for-profit (tax paying) and non-profit child care businesses can participate.

Under the CARES Act, there are two ways in which STC programs are financed. For states that already have STC programs enacted by their state legislatures (or for any new states that pass STC legislation), the federal government provides 100 percent federal financing through December 31, 2020, if such programs comply with federal guidance.[9] For states without statutory authority for a STC program, state labor agencies can submit a state STC plan to be approved by the U.S. Department of Labor, which then triggers federal reimbursement of 50 percent for benefits and 100 percent for administrative costs.[10]

There is no one-size-fits-all approach to solving the challenges faced by small businesses. However, with regard to the child care industry, it is critical that each small business explore every option available to avoid what could be a collapse of the industry. 

In the case of STC programs, while they operate generally as lay-off aversion programs, they can also be used in the context of re-opening businesses that have closed temporarily.[11] In this way, the STC program can be used as a bridge to bring back workers who have previously been laid off. This option would also help child care businesses ramp up as parent demand increases over time as more parents return to the workforce.

What is clear is that parents depend on child care in order to return to work. The child care industry faces economic challenges just like other small businesses. Layoff aversion strategies such as the STC program may offer temporary support during this time of public health emergency, which has led to an unprecedented number of individuals who are unemployed (i.e., nearly one million claims have been filed in North Carolina since March 15).[12] 

Bill Rowe, the General Counsel and Director of Advocacy at the North Carolina Justice Center published a list of unemployment policy changes to be considered by the NC State Legislature.[13] Chief among those recommendations is the adoption of a N.C. short-time compensation program.

In the short-term, the STC could be a less expensive option for states compared to paying full unemployment compensation. In the long-term, for small businesses like child care, it may be a temporary bridge to weather through the COVID-19 economic devastation. 

It’s time to let your state legislators know that North Carolina needs a short-time compensation program. The future economic viability and supply of child care centers may depend on it.


[1] Bipartisan Policy Center, “State Child Care Administrator Forum COVID-19: What Worked, What Didn’t, What’s Next?”, May 28, 2020.

[2] Ibid.

[3] Ibid.

[4] Ibid.

[5] Ibid.

[6] Ibid.

[7] The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, P.L. 116-136.

[8] Ibid.

[9] U.S. Department of Labor, Employment and Training Administration, Unemployment Insurance Program Letter No. 21-20, May 3, 2020.

[10] Ibid.

[11] Ibid.

[12] North Carolina Department of Commerce, Unemployment Claims Data, May 29, 2020.

[13] North Carolina Justice Center, Unemployment insurance changes needed in North Carolina, April 24, 2020.

By Marsha Basloe, CCSA President

This is a heartbreaking fact – the number of young children experiencing homelessness in the United States has grown in the last decade. In fact, this number increased to more than 1.4M in 2017-2018 [i]. That is one out of every 16 young children. What does that look like? Picture a preschool classroom and imagine that one of the young children sitting on the floor listening to the teacher read a favorite book is living in a shelter, on someone else’s couch, in their family’s car, in a cramped motel room or perhaps sleeping somewhere different every night! The ramifications of this level of destabilization on children and families are tremendous. Negative consequences abound. Being homeless as a child can cause negative effects that last for the rest of someone’s life. And, there are concerns today, that the COVID-19 health pandemic will increase family homelessness even more.

Ensuring the early learning and development of our country’s youngest children is essential to Child Care Services Association’s (CCSA) work. Supporting the well-being of these young children and their families is an urgent task and one that is critical to improving the long-term educational outcomes of children nationwide. It is why CCSA is pleased to release the validated and revised Early Childhood Self-Assessment Tool for Shelters, in partnership with the Administration for Children and Families (ACF), U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. This tool is designed to guide shelter staff in creating safe, developmentally appropriate environments for infants, toddlers, preschoolers and their families who are experiencing homelessness.

Often young children experiencing homelessness do not receive the social-emotional, educational, medical, mental health and/or special services they need to thrive. Infants and toddlers are particularly impacted by homelessness, with increased risk for early harm to their health and development, as well as having parents with poor physical and mental health, and additional hardships for families. [ii] In fact, infancy is the age at which a person is most likely to live in a U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) shelter. [iii]

Shelter staff can help ameliorate these issues for young children, if the shelter has a safe, developmentally appropriate environment for young children and easily connects to community partners who support early childhood development. The Early Childhood Self-Assessment Tool for Shelters can provide shelters the resources and information necessary to support the fragile young children in their care. With the tool’s abundant resources and guidance on best practices, shelters can assess how their programs can best meet the needs of vulnerable young children and their families. The tool also encourages shelters to develop relationships with local resources like early intervention and home visiting programs, child care and WIC, for help implementing new practices and to promote cross-program referrals. Finally, the tool guides shelters through developing action plans to promote positive experiences for children and families.

Knowing that safe and reliable child care is a key component of parents’ abilities to re-establish their lives and obtain steady employment, the self-assessment tool encourages shelters to build collaborations with early childhood programs in their communities. Many early childhood programs have expedited enrollment for families experiencing homelessness, and Head Start/Early Head Start programs are required to prioritize enrollment for these families. Enrolling in early learning programs gives children a chance to participate in age-appropriate activities that foster growth and development and learn at their own pace. Children who receive high quality early childhood education are more likely to be employed full-time and have more financial and personal assets as middle-age adults. [iv]

“The validated Early Childhood Self-Assessment Tool for Shelters has never been more important, as the COVID-19 pandemic is forcing more children to ‘shelter-in-place’ in environments that were not designed for young children, and at agencies that may not have expertise in early childhood development. Collectively, we must protect young children from the harm of homelessness, and take every step to make sure it does not limit their futures. This vital tool can help homeless shelters improve their physical environments, their practices and their partnerships to support young children at a time of great vulnerability, ultimately reducing the risk of experiencing homelessness as adults,” said Barbara Duffield, Executive Director of SchoolHouse Connection, a CCSA partner and lead organization in the Education Leads Home campaign.

The origins of the Early Childhood Self-Assessment Tool for Shelters

During my tenure as senior adviser for the Office of Early Childhood Development at the Administration for Children and Families, I had the opportunity to focus on early childhood homelessness. I quickly learned that homelessness among young children was on the rise and created numerous barriers for children’s development and multiple challenges for parents’ efforts at stabilizing their families.

Seeking ways to support both families and shelters that accept children and families, in 2014, we worked with a Congressional Emerson Hunger Fellow and developed the first edition of the Early Childhood Self-Assessment Tool for Family Shelters: A Guide to Support the Safe and Healthy Development of Young Children in Shelter Settings. The tool was shared by national organizations including NAEH, NAEHCY, CLPHA and SchoolHouse Connection and multiple federal departments as part of the USICH Early Childhood Workgroup. It was used in multiple locations across the country. People’s Emergency Center (PEC) in Philadelphia was using the tool in its BELL Project, and Sara Shaw was working with the project. BELL (Building Early Learning Links) connects early care and education programs to family emergency shelter and transitional housing providers to better respond to the needs of young children experiencing homelessness. Sara Shaw, a doctoral student at the University of Delaware under adviser Rena Hallam, associate professor in the Dept. of Human Development and Family Studies, worked on validating the tool as part of her dissertation. I stayed in contact with Sara during this process and helped coordinate support from the regional office so that she could obtain data from across the country. Her work was just amazing to me!

Fast forward to 2018, when, as president of Child Care Services Association (CCSA) in North Carolina, I continued my work with early childhood homelessness – providing a 50-state chart of CCDF plans by early childhood departments across the country and staying in contact with Sara as she completed her dissertation and validated this tool. In fall 2019, I convened a panel of early childhood experts at CCSA with Dr. Sara Shaw to explore the findings and changes that must be made and review the validated tool from an early childhood education perspective. Today, the validated and revised Early Childhood Self-Assessment Tool for Shelters is ready for release.

The public health and economic crises created by the COVID-19 pandemic are disproportionately impacting people experiencing homelessness. Shelters and other housing assistance programs, most of which are strained in normal circumstances, may be struggling even more to keep up with demand during this period. There may be more young children and families experiencing homelessness. We hope this tool will provide much needed support. Conversations are beginning with partners across the country as we develop technical assistance packages and a 50-state strategy for using the validated tool and connecting young children experiencing homelessness to services. If you are interested in being part of our research, please contact me.

You can find the Early Childhood Self-Assessment Tool for Shelters here.


[i] Yamashiro, A., McLaughlin, J. (2020). Early Childhood Homelessness
State Profiles – Data Collected in 2017-2018
. U.S. Department of Education Office of Planning, Evaluation and Policy Development.

[ii] Cutts, D., Bovell-Ammon A., et al.. (2018). Homelessness During Infancy: Associations With Infant and Maternal Health and Hardship Outcomes. Cityscape: A Journal of Policy Development and Research, Volume 20 Number 2. U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

[iii] Gubits, D., Shinn M., Bell S., Wood M., Dstrup S., Solari, C. (2015). Family options study: Short-term impacts of housing and services interventions for homeless families. Washington, D.C.: Prepared for U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, Office of Policy Development and Research by Abt. Associates and Vanderbilt University.

[iv] Sonnier-Netto, L., Landesman Ramey, S., Stack Hankey, M., Ramey, C. T. (2017). High Quality Early Care and Education Improves Adult Child–Parent Relationships (The Abecedarian Project). Virginia Tech Carilion Research Institute.

By Tanya Slehria, Communications Intern, and Jennifer Gioia, Communications Manager, CCSA

May 8, 2020, is National Child Care Provider Appreciation Day, a day to recognize child care providers, teachers, and other educators of young children everywhere. Join CCSA in giving thanks to those who dedicate themselves every day to educating and caring for our youngest children. Especially now during COVID-19, they deserve more than just our thanks.

Child care providers are essential workers. COVID-19 has left them to operate in extreme circumstances while providing safe and loving care to the children of other essential workers. Please consider giving to the CCSA COVID-19 Relief Fund launched in partnership with Smart Start to help child care programs in North Carolina either continue operating during this pandemic or be able to reopen once it’s safe again.

With your help, child care providers like Mary Lewis can continue to do what they love—teaching.

Mary[1] says “just watching children learn” is what she loves most about teaching. “Being able to adapt lesson plans on their level and teach them the way they need to learn, not the way I want to teach. Finding what works best for them on the individual level.”

Mary has been the director of the Children’s Center of First Baptist in Cary, N.C. for four years and just recently completed her Bachelor’s degree in December. “I have applied to UNC-G for the master’s program. I’m hoping to go all the way. I’m hoping to get a doctorate,” Mary said.

For Mary, her background sparked her career in early childhood education. “I grew up as a foster child and I’ve always looked for a way to advocate for children,” she said. As a director, Mary says she can “connect with [students] on all levels instead of just a few in the classroom.”

Her transition to teaching future teachers began with her desire to “see some changes in the early childhood college curriculum so [teachers] can be more prepared when we step in and be ready to go.” She says a change in curriculum can help teach future teachers “how to handle behavior issues [and] different things I feel like maybe we’re missing out on now in the current college curriculum.”

Mary’s favorite part of being a director is in her connections. “I love that I can connect with all the children, and all the families and the staff. My determination is to treat them the way I would want to be treated. I’ve worked for some directors that didn’t really care, you know. I really want to make a difference in [the staff’s] lives as much as the lives of the children, and T.E.A.C.H. allows me to do that,” Mary said.

As a participant in the T.E.A.C.H. Early Childhood® Scholarship program since 2014, Mary said, “I would never have completed three degrees without T.E.A.C.H.”

Her advice to those beginning a journey in early childhood education is, “to not settle. Not to just go get the paper [degree], but to go and get every piece of information offered by the colleges so you can really build yourself up and know you can help change the lives of children.” 

The most rewarding part of Mary’s experience is how she “can look back at the end of the day and say that I’ve accomplished this, or together we’ve accomplished this. Together, we’ve made a change.”

CCSA is grateful for child care providers like Mary for not just caring for and educating our youngest children, but for truly being the backbone of our economy. COVID-19 has shown the rest of America this, and we hope that the CCSA COVID-19 Relief Fund will help child care programs continue to care and educate our youngest after the pandemic. Say thanks to your child care provider and donate to the CCSA COVID-19 Relief Fund today!


[1] This interview took place in January 2020.

By Kay Ducharme, Regional CCR&R Senior Manager at Child Care Services Association

Part III: Why is data important?

For Child Care Services Association (CCSA), collecting data about the impact and effects of high quality child care is one of the most important things we can do for early childhood educators, young children and families. To that end, we talk to educators and families daily, collecting an enormous amount of data to analyze the needs of families and early childhood educators. In fact, we are the only organization in North Carolina that collects data on child care supply and demand. This information helps us strengthen and innovate the child care system for families, child care providers, programs and communities.

Yet, I am often asked why we have to collect all of this data. In short, data is absolutely vital to ensuring that all children have access to high quality child care led by educated and motivated teachers.

For example, recent data indicates decreases in the number of classrooms, family child care homes and the total number in the child care workforce. Since child care resource and referral (CCR&R) is the only system that collects data on both supply and demand, we continue to help families locate child care as the supply decreases and the need increases. We also work to help start-up new programs to fill gaps where the supply of child care is limited. Our data can be used to help us advocate for change in public policy. And we need data to accurately tell the story of what families and providers across North Carolina need to strengthen services for families and the early childhood education field.

Federal funds to support CCR&R are a part of the Child Care Development Block Grant (CCDBG). The state’s Division of Child Development and Early Education (DCDEE) defines goals each year for the Council to help North Carolina meet federal block grant requirements. Regional CCR&R Lead Agencies receive funding from the Council to provide services in the 14 CCR&R regions based on population, community and child care demographics, workforce numbers and number of classrooms in the region, etc. The Council reports outcomes, outputs and demographics to DCDEE each year. These reports enable us to analyze customer needs and identify gaps in services and trends in each of North Carolina’s 100 counties.

Statewide in FY19, the NC CCR&R system data indicated that the 14 regions trained 24,180 early educators; 3,077 of those training participants received CEUs. In addition to training, CCR&R agencies provided technical assistance to 6,171 classrooms/homes and consumer education and/or consultation to 21,738 households across the state. Ninety-eight percent (98%) of families surveyed said they used quality indicators when choosing child care and 97% of the families surveyed indicated that they chose a 3-5 star rated child care program after using CCR&R services. By collecting data in a consistent manner using defined data sets, data is monitored to ensure reliability.

To access a membership to the website for CCR&R staff, please contact Mary Erwin, NC CCR&R Council Coordinator at Child Care Services Association, here.

For more in-depth knowledge of the CCR&R system, training sessions are available each year throughout the state for new staff. The final one for this fiscal year will be held in Greenville, N.C., at the Martin-Pitt Partnership for Children, April 23 at 9:30 a.m. You can register for the training session here.

To read the first part of this series on what the statewide CCR&R is, click here.

To read the second part of this series on what the NC CCR&R Council is, click here.

By Kay Ducharme, Regional CCR&R Senior Manager at Child Care Services Association

Part II: What is the NC CCR&R Council?

The NC CCR&R Council was designed by the state’s Division of Child Development and Early Education (DCDEE) to standardize the delivery of child care resource and referral (CCR&R) services and provide equitable funding across the state. Before the Council was created, North Carolina had a fragmented, under-resourced CCR&R system that delivered services to children from birth to 5 or birth through 12, depending on where they lived. Some CCR&Rs provided non-English services while others did not. Databases and reporting mechanisms were different and data on programs, children and families served was not collected in a consistent manner. This made it impossible to provide accurate statewide data when advocating for changes in public policy or reporting to federal or state governments on the successes and/or gaps in services across North Carolina.

The Council allowed DCDEE to ensure that CCR&R services were equitably funded and available in communities across the state for providers and families of children from birth through age 12 in the two most commonly used languages, no matter where they lived or worked. In addition, they wanted to ensure that the system was data driven and that data was collected consistently. This allows DCDEE to paint an accurate picture of what is happening in North Carolina for policymakers using consistent statistical data. It was also created with a flexible structure to accommodate emerging needs as priorities and funding sources change.

Today, the Council manages and delivers CCR&R core services and special initiatives which include providing technical assistance and training to early care and education professionals, helping families locate child care services, collecting and analyzing data to help shape public policy and provide community awareness, helping young children build strong social-emotional behaviors, helping support babies, helping improve school-age services and others as requested by DCDEE. The Council collaborates with other early childhood entities in North Carolina to strengthen early childhood and also leads many projects that increase the quality and availability of child care, provides research and advocates for child care policies that positively impact the lives of children and families.

The three agencies chosen to partner as the Council—Child Care Services Association, Child Care Resources Inc. and Southwestern Child Development Commission—are referred to as Council Management Agencies (CMAs) and each one is responsible for the management of 4 to 5 regions (inclusive of their own region). Below is a map showing how regions are structured today.

A wealth of information is provided by the Council to support CCR&Rs, children, families, providers and communities. In addition to training and technical assistance, other resources provided to CCR&Rs include:

  • train the trainer classes;
  • an annual conference;
  • email and advocacy alerts;
  • regulatory changes and notices;
  • collaborative meetings;
  • definitions/instructions and data collection forms;
  • regional directories;
  • a monthly news blast with early childhood news and links to regional training calendars;
  • a website;
  • Art and Science of TA and Emergency Preparedness training calendars;
  • manuals;
  • workgroups; and
  • contract management.

Read more about why the data collected is important in the final part of this series here.

To read the first part of this series on what the statewide CCR&R is, click here.

By Allison Miller, CCSA Compensation Initiatives Team

When Davina Woods was asked how she became interested in early childhood, she said, “I entered the profession as an undercover helicopter mom! I had just placed my son in child care and I couldn’t stand not being there and seeing what and how he was doing.”

Her child’s center hired her as a part-time school-age group leader before she eventually found her calling with young children and their teachers. 

She started with no education and now she is in the master’s program at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro with the assistance of a T.E.A.C.H. Early Childhood® scholarship. After 25 years in the field, she loves her position as director of Excel Christian Academy, a five-star child care center in Alamance County, where she has been for 13 years.

“It has been a privilege to work in every single aspect of child care,” Davina said. “In every classroom, with every age group, in every position. I have fulfilled every duty from cook to van driver and it gives me perspective and appreciation. I love this viewpoint. I get the luxury of working with children, families and teachers.” 

Davina’s center prioritizes its teachers by providing a livable wage as well as other key benefits, which she knows most teachers are unable to access in this field. “And then they get WAGE$ and T.E.A.C.H. on top of that,” she said.

The Child Care WAGE$® (WAGE$) Program provides education-based salary supplements to low-paid teachers, directors and family child care providers working with children between the ages of birth to five. The program is designed to provide preschool children more stable relationships with better-educated teachers by rewarding teacher education and continuity of care.

The T.E.A.C.H. Early Childhood® Scholarship (T.E.A.C.H.) Program addresses under-education, poor compensation and high turnover within the early childhood workforce by providing educational scholarships to early care professionals and those who perform specialized functions in the early care system.

“WAGE$ and T.E.A.C.H. are just part of who we are, part of the center’s make-up,” Davina said. “It is essential, imperative, to have an educated staff, especially here in the 21st century where children are not changing but the modes and methods of educating children are constantly evolving. Teachers must know best practices and know how to utilize the latest research and incorporate that into classrooms for the best outcomes for children.”

According to Davina, “WAGE$ is essential because it helps to boost teacher morale within the program. WAGE$ both encourages and motivates staff to increase their education. Additionally, WAGE$ provides a sense of healthy competition among team members as they see who can achieve the next level first.”

She said, “My teachers talk about the courses they take and they drive each other.” Three of her staff will graduate in December with their associate degree in early childhood education and they remind Davina of why she does what she does. “If I take great care of my team, they will take great care of the children.”

Thank you, Davina, for your support of the workforce and the Child Care WAGE$® Program.

Learn more about the Child Care WAGE$® Program here.

Learn more about the T.E.A.C.H. Early Childhood® Scholarship (T.E.A.C.H.) Program here.

By Marsha Basloe, President of CCSA

If any issue warrants public attention, public discussion and rethinking as to the best way to ensure families with young children have access to child care and pre-kindergarten, it is our nation’s current approach to the safety and healthy development of young children. It’s not a system as much as a patchwork quilt stitched together over decades. The federal government allocates funds to states through individual programs or funding streams (i.e., block grants), each with different rules, administered by different state agencies, and too often resulting in siloed approaches with little to no coordination or collaboration among state agencies, departments, divisions or communities.

In December 2019, Congress enacted the FY2020 Labor, Health and Human Services and Education Appropriations measure, which included the following funding levels for early care and education programs:

Source: FY2020 non-defense consolidated appropriations bill (HR 1865, PL116-94) enacted on December 20, 2019.

In addition to the funding above, in FY2019, the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture allocated $3.7 billion to states to support healthy meals and snacks for low-income children in child care centers and family child care homes [1] and the U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services allocated the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) block grant to states, of which states chose to use $3.8 billion for child care and $2.6 billion for state pre-K. [2] The number of children served by TANF funds for child care or pre-K is unknown because the federal government only requires aggregate spending to be reported, not how many children are served, the setting children are in (homes or centers, licensed or unlicensed) or the average price paid per child. In all, that’s more than $35 billion through various federal funds for early care and education programs.

Child care is the largest early childhood program with $12.5 billion in funding and yet only about 17 percent of eligible children (based on state standards) receive a subsidy. [3] Many states have a waiting list for assistance, including North Carolina with a waiting list of more than 40,000 children. Families have a difficult time finding care, affording care, and then many parents express concern about the quality of care. Numerous national reports have been released about child care deserts, communities where the need for child care for parents of children under age 6 pales in comparison to the licensed supply of child care. [4] The U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services released a report in October 2019 that found the supply of home-based care has declined by more than 97,000 providers since 2005. [5]

Why? Child care is a business. Child care centers tend to operate in areas where the population is dense enough with sufficient numbers of private-pay families who can afford weekly parent fees. The operating budget for child care centers largely comprises parent fees and therefore staff is hired at the lowest wages possible to hold costs down. In a good economy with low unemployment, like we have today, turnover is high because staff often can find better-paying jobs in fast food, retail sales or other jobs that require less training or education. Turnover also costs businesses because of the marketing, interviewing, hiring and training required for new staff.

For home-based providers, the hours are long and the pay is low. According to a 2019 economic impact report by the Committee for Economic Development, [6] the average annual income of home-based providers is approximately $15,000 per year, [7] 18% higher than in North Carolina, where the average income of home-based providers is $12,300. [8] The decline in home-based providers (who often serve infants and toddlers) is a hardship for parents, particularly those in rural communities where the economics of operating a center don’t work. Home-based care is often less expensive and providers may be more willing to stay open during nontraditional hours for those parents who work shift work or have long commutes to their job. Yet, again, wages drive interest in opening a home-based program (or closing one) because other jobs in the community may pay more with fewer hours and less stress.

The reality is that mothers are working today. Nationally, approximately 72 percent of mothers with children under age 6 are working outside of the home, [9] 65.4 percent of mothers with children age 2 are working [10] and, 57.8 percent of mothers with children under age 1 are working. [11] Many of these mothers need child care, but federal subsidies reach only one out of every six eligible children. Therefore, most families are forced to afford whatever they can find. However, in too many communities, the supply is not available, let alone affordable.

There is no doubt that if our nation’s early care and education system were designed today, it would look much different. If we can’t think out of the box about a new bold system to better meet the needs of families with young children, we will be stuck with incremental, minor band-aids that ignore the real problem: the system is under-financed and poorly designed. Parents can’t afford quality child care, but we know from the research that high-quality child care really matters to the healthy development of children, particularly in the earliest years as a child’s brain is developing the fastest, setting the architecture for all future social, emotional, physical and cognitive skills. [12]

Two decades ago, child care was a work support. Today, we know that it is a two-generation strategy. High-quality child care helps parents work and helps support the healthy development of children. In fact, parents who can’t access child care reduce their hours or drop out of the workforce. About 94 percent of those who involuntarily work part-time are mothers who cite child care problems as their reason for working part-time. [13]

In 2018, the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) released “Transforming the Financing of Early Care and Education,” which reviewed the multiple funding streams for early care and education and made a number of recommendations. The NAS Committee, made up of early childhood experts and finance experts, recommended investing in early care and education at a percentage of U.S. gross domestic product (GDP) aligned with the average of other member nations of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). The report recommended increasing funds in four phases, from at least $5 billion in phase one to $53 billion in phase four. [14]

However, it is not just about the money. It is also about program design and meeting the needs of families in urban and rural areas and in an array of settings that best meet the needs of the family and each individual child with an early education workforce that is trained and paid appropriately for the important work they do. 

Rethinking is always a bit more challenging than staying in the box with patchwork fixes. The current system isn’t working for low-income children whose families need a subsidy or the private market where working parents need access to affordable high-quality child care and early education programs. It is time for a discussion about a redesign.


[1] U.S. Department of Agriculture, Child and Adult Care Food Program, January 2020. https://fns-prod.azureedge.net/sites/default/files/resource-files/ccsummar-1.pdf

[2] U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Family Assistance, TANF expenditures FY2018. https://www.acf.hhs.gov/ofa/resource/tanf-financial-data-fy-2018

[3] U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO), Child Care: Access to Subsidies and Strategies to Manage Demand Vary Across States, 2016. https://www.gao.gov/assets/690/681652.pdf

[4] Center for American Progress, https://www.americanprogress.org/issues/early-childhood/reports/2018/12/06/461643/americas-child-care-deserts-2018/; Child Care Aware of America, https://www.childcareaware.org/our-issues/research/mappingthegap/.

[5] U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, National Center on Early Childhood Quality Assurance, 2019. https://childcareta.acf.hhs.gov/sites/default/files/public/addressing_decreasing_fcc_providers_revised_final.pdf

[6] Committee for Economic Development of The Conference Board, Child Care in State Economies: 2019 Update. https://www.ced.org/childcareimpact

[7] Ibid.

[8] Ibid.

[9] U.S. Census Bureau, Table S2301, Employment Status, 2018 American Community Survey, 1 Year Estimates.

[10] U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Table 6. Employment status of mothers with own children under age 3 years old by single year of age of youngest child and marital status, 2017-2018 averages.

[11] Ibid.

[12] Harvard University, Center on the Developing Child. Brain Architecture. https://developingchild.harvard.edu/science/key-concepts/brain-architecture/

[13] Committee for Economic Development of The Conference Board, Child Care in State Economies: 2019 Update. https://www.ced.org/childcareimpact

[14] National Academy of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, Transforming the Financing of Early Care and Education, 2018.  https://www.nap.edu/catalog/24984/transforming-the-financing-of-early-care-and-education

By Tanya Slehria, Communications Intern at CCSA

Shantel Zimmerman describes her favorite part of teaching as, “truthfully, the kids. It is so much fun. I tell [my husband] I get to go to work and play everyday teaching. Where else can an almost 50-year-old be silly and whimsical and get paid for it?”

Shantel has taught at Primrose School of Heritage Wake Forest in Wake Forest, North Carolina for nearly a decade. She first received her bachelor’s degree and returned to school to receive her master’s in elementary education. “I originally wanted to be a high school teacher. I changed my major in college because I didn’t think I had the patience to be with elementary or younger,” said Shantel. “Having my daughter showed me I did have the patience, so when she started school, I went back to younger kids. I like them, they’re more fun.” 

For Shantel, being a parent helps develop her teaching style for young children. She also credits her style to “the classes I took, interesting articles I come across [and] talking to other teachers. It’s really just trying to see what works for you and what works with the age group you’re with.” 

Her advice is to be flexible to others teaching in the field. “You can have something planned to do with your class and it may get tossed out the window in the first five minutes. It all depends on the mood of the kids. My key thing is to be flexible and go with the flow because you never know where it’s going to take you,” said Shantel. 

The most rewarding part of teaching for Shantel is “having fun with the kids and watching them grow.” It’s all about the kids for her. “Watching what my kids have learned in the nine months I have them amazes me and makes me want to do more every day,” she said. 

By Tanya Slehria, Communications Intern at CCSA

As a teaching professional, Chatiba Bullock truly values her education and credits her continuous path to being a lifelong learner. “In order for me to motivate my teachers and team members, it’s important for them to see me working,” said Chatiba.

Chatiba works as Education Manager for Durham Head Start/Early Head Start while also furthering her early childhood development degree. She first began as an assistant teacher, quickly moved up to lead teacher and went on further to serve in the leadership position of center director.

Chatiba is also a Child Care WAGE$® recipient. “I really like WAGE$ because it gives you an incentive to keep learning,” she said. “The WAGE$ program really was [integral] in motivating me as an educator to want more and better myself.”

“I received an associates in early childhood education from Durham Tech Community College in 2005 and I went on to North Carolina Central University where I received my bachelor’s in family and consumer sciences with a concentration in child development in 2008,” Chatiba said. She didn’t stop there. “I received my Master’s in education in 2014 from Ashford University and then received some post-graduate certifications from Walden University in teacher leadership and childhood administration.

It wasn’t always Chatiba’s plan to work in early childhood education. Out of high school, she began as a business major. “It wasn’t until in ‘99, I started working at the Early Learning Center through the YMCA, they had their own child care center and I took on a part-time job as a floater, and I loved early childhood education,” Chatiba said.

While there, Chatiba realized something. “Working with kids and going to school for business, it just didn’t mesh. I like working with kids and I need to learn more about children,” she said.

“[My favorite part of being an educator is] the correlation between children and families. I think it’s actually working with children and families to help them understand the importance of education and how they can foster that love at home with their kids,” said Chatiba.

Her teaching style is shaped by “letting [the children] be the teacher and I’m the facilitator. I like to build lessons when I’m in the classroom. I’m not in the classroom as much anymore, but when I’m helping teachers understand their teaching style, my teaching style basically is the child’s interests and helping teachers facilitate that in their classroom,” said Chatiba.