Early Childhood Education
Our goal: Expand high-quality, affordable preschool to all children
When we invent and replicate high-quality programs for children, we can solve problems in early childhood development and show significant long-term improvements for children. Asheville-Buncombe Preschool Planning Collaborative members spent a year and a half examining the research and the current landscape to develop a plan that fits the needs of our county. We can improve affordability for parents while providing our children a foundation for their future educational –and career—success, leading to positive economic mobility.
Yet, the annual average cost to families for a high-quality preschool program ($9,300) exceeds the cost of sending a child to an NC public university. Less than half of young children are enrolled in a licensed program in Buncombe County. And many parents who can afford the costs, can’t find a space while many centers can’t attract and retain highly skilled teachers in our competitive job market.
Our proposal: Increase the County’s Early Childhood Education Fund to $5.5M ($1.9M increase)
FFAB applauds the Buncombe County Commissioners for creating a $3.6M Early Childhood Education Fund (with a 2% annual increase) and establishing the County Early Childhood Committee. Staff leadership worked quickly to seat the Early Childhood Committee in time to review the first year of grant applications before the May budget vote.
However, when past commitments to Early Childhood and to local school districts were tallied, the committee only had the ability to consider and fund $1.9M (not $3.6M) in new funding from grant requests exceeding $9M. If the County had allocated $3.6M in new funding for the Early Childhood Fund instead of counting existing spending, the total would be $5.5M. This investment level will help the county attract additional private and philanthropic investments that will be noticeable and meaningful for working families seeking affordable, high-quality opportunities for their young children.
What this investment provides:
- Maintaining and supporting quality, affordable early childhood programs staffed by great teachers – due to state funding issues alongside local workforce issues, we face a real threat to our capacity to enroll young children. This funding can promote well-paid, well-educated teachers and provide more parents affordable options for their young children.
- Increased trauma responsive supports for early childhood programs to build the skills and relationships between families, teachers, and children that support success and resiliency.
I have an almost two-year-old and I have been staying home since just before she was born. Luckily, we live in a very affordable rental home, but it seems almost impossible to fathom affording full time daycare so I could go back to work. I've known quite a few moms that returned to work after their kiddos were a few months old, only to quit a month or two in because they realized they were only bringing in about $50-$100/week after child care and other expenses. It's rough.
— Erica Rose Paschold
People aren’t making high enough wages. I could not go back to my amazing job after giving birth because either my husband or myself would have been working ONLY to put our son in someone else's hands. And we wouldn't have been able to pay bills, so it wasn't an option. Three job changes for me later and I am working a 9-to-5 and my husband works 20-25 hours and had to give up his full-time position. Even a living wage is measly. I have a Master’s degree and we still can’t afford childcare.
— Candace Pearce