An inspiring young student, a new NC leader

“If it wasn’t for her, I probably would have given up.”

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Rondell Bennett, Karly Walker and Jimmy Oates talk about what led Jimmy to study early childhood at Fayetteville Tech and what kept him enrolled. Liz Bell/EducationNC

We’re on the road to visit all 58 community colleges and ask questions about early childhood preparation and child care needs of students and communities. I was at Fayetteville Technical Community College last week. A highlight was speaking with Jimmy Oates, above, about his journey to studying early childhood education.

For three years after Oates retired from the military, he worked with 16-18 year olds in difficult circumstances. He also helped with his cousin’s daycare and with his nephews and nieces.

He saw pieces of his own story in the children of his life. When Oates was 4, his mother died. He met many struggling children in single-parent families, especially fatherless boys, and thought he could play a role in a predominantly female workforce.

“Not being able to receive maternal love, I think that’s what really drew me to children,” he told me.

It’s reciprocal. Oates described how children gravitate to him – how kids at his cousin’s center and the elementary school where he volunteers get excited when ‘Mr. Jimmy’ visits and the babies raise their hands for him. Yours. “I’m really drawn to kids, and they’re drawn to me.”

Oates doesn’t know where he will end up after earning his associate’s degree. But he’s sure he wouldn’t be this close to the finish line – 39 credits in – without early childhood instructor Karly Walker (also pictured above, middle).

“If it wasn’t for her, I probably would have given up,” Oates said. Walker asks Oates to start mentoring another male student in the program. For now, he is applying his learning to the many children in his life, such as how to check children’s emotions and integrate a struggling child into a group.

“I’ve been there too, so I know,” he said.

Below, don’t miss a Q&A from Katie Dukes with Jennifer Lansford, the new director of the Center for Child & Family Policy at Duke University’s Sanford School of Public Policy. Dukes asks Lansford what kinds of policy priorities the center has in the coming years to support children and families.

See you on the road!


Early Bird reads: What We Write

Questions and Answers | Jennifer Lansford, Director of Duke’s Center for Child & Family Policy

Dukes asks Lansford about her time since 2000 at the center and what she will focus on in the years to come. She also asks him about the looming “childcare cliff”. Lansford’s response extends beyond the landscape of early childhood care and education – to how our policies can support the whole family in the early years:

EdNC: Some of the policy measures that have been put in place to support the childcare industry during the pandemic are set to expire soon, leading experts to warn of an impending “childcare cliff”. What kind of politics do you think could prevent us from falling off that cliff?

Lansford: I think a big question is how to build systems of care. If I were to design an optimal system to avoid things like the childcare cliff, it would start with universal paid parental leave. Mothers are either demonized or valued as the ones responsible for solving the problem of childcare, but the systems that [parental leave] Well, don’t treat this as just a women’s issue. Sweden, for example, designates a certain number of days off for fathers. And if the fathers do not take it, the family loses it; it’s not like it can then be transferred to the mother. This is great from a systemic point of view, because it clearly involves fathers, not just mothers, and it has benefits for children as well.


Your View, For God’s Sake: EdNC Insights

prospect | Back to school, where attendance couldn’t be more important for learning and reading success

Lindsay Saunders of the North Carolina Early Childhood Foundation stresses the importance of regular school attendance early in life.

“Reducing absenteeism is a simple, cost-effective, yet often overlooked strategy for improving school performance,” writes Saunders. “As early as preschool and kindergarten, chronic absence – missing 10% of the school year – can prevent third-grade students from reading well, sixth-grade students from difficulty with lessons and middle school students. high school on the way to graduation.

Many schools don’t keep the right data to understand the underlying issues of chronic absenteeism, Saunders writes. It also outlines strategies and resources that schools can use to make a difference.


In other early learning news: What I’m reading


Research and Resources: Let’s Talk Public Preschool in Family Child Care Homes

As many people argue for a more publicly funded system of early care and education that relieves both families and educators, the question arises of what that system should look like.

Who should provide public pre-school education? So far, pre-K has been prioritized in terms of public investment, and those public funds have mostly gone to public schools and private daycares, according to researchers in Delaware, North Carolina and Illinois. .

Their new research brief argues that family child care homes (FCCs) should also be able to participate in state pre-K programs — and that children and communities would be better off for it.

In North Carolina and elsewhere, home-based providers have responded to a critical need during the pandemic, staying open when larger establishments have had to close. They also often provide more flexible care for non-traditional work hours, linguistically and culturally relevant care for marginalized communities, and more intimate settings.

Even though about half of state pre-K programs allow these providers to participate in theory, the researchers write, “limited data or research is available on their design, implementation, or impact.”

The paper indicates that five main “areas of implementation” should be considered to equitably include home child care in public pre-kindergarten systems:

  • “Fair funding and compensation.
  • Accessible qualifications and professional development.
  • FCC-specific PreK program quality standards.
  • Complete services for children and families.
  • Simplified data and monitoring requirements.

“The inclusion of FCC institutions as key partners in these systems is a critical step in ensuring that all preschoolers have access to high-quality, responsive, and accessible educational opportunities,” the researchers write.

Liz Bell

Liz Bell is the early childhood reporter for EducationNC.