Defining the Problem


High-quality early care and education programs help prepare children physically, academically, socially, and emotionally. While children from all backgrounds can benefit from attending high-quality and affordable child care and education programs, children facing challenges related to poverty, disabilities, or limited English proficiency often benefit the most from these programs.1 A growing amount of evidence shows that high-quality child care programs help children become more on-track for school success, which supports them in becoming healthy, successful adults.2,3 Research also shows that employers benefit when their employees' children are in quality child care arrangements.4 When parents know their children are provided quality care that fosters healthy development, they are more productive and focused on work. 

The NC Early Childhood Action Plan focuses on two measures of families’ ability to access child care programs in North Carolina: rates of eligible families enrolled in NC Pre-K, and the affordability of child care programs. Affordability is defined based on the percent of a family’s income spent on child care. Recognizing that more children under age five attend other child care and early learning programs, the plan includes sub-targets that track two other types of high-quality child care and learning programs: Head Start and 4- and 5-Star Programs for families who receive child care subsidy. 

Goal 8 Target

Percent of Income-Eligible Children Enrolled in NC Pre-K by Year

Data Source: Division of Child Development and Early Education (DCDEE), NC Department of Health and Human Services (NCDHHS) 

Percent of Family Income Spent on Child Care in North Carolina by Type of Child Care 

Data Source: Division of Child Development and Early Education (DCDEE), NC Department of Health and Human Services (NCDHHS) and Child Care Aware America

Sub-Targets

Sub-Target 1: Eligible Children Whose Families Receive Child Care Subsidy and Are Enrolled in 4- or 5-Star Centers and Homes 

Percent of Eligible Children Whose Families Receive Child Care Subsidy and Are Enrolled in 4- or 5-Star Centers and Homes

Data Source: Division of Child Development and Early Education (DCDEE), NC Department of Health and Human Services (NCDHHS)

Sub-Target 2: Eligible Children Enrolled in Head Start

Percent of Eligible Children Enrolled in Head Start in North Carolina, by Age Group

Data Sources: North Carolina Head Start State Collaboration Office and American Community Survey (ACS), U.S. Census Bureau 

Sub-Target 3: Early Childhood Teachers with Post-Secondary Early Childhood Education  

Education of Early Childhood Teachers by Year

Data Source: Child Care Services Association Early Childhood Workforce Studies and Division of Child Development and Early Education (DCDEE), NC Department of Health and Human Services (NCDHHS)

Education of Early Childhood Assistant Teachers by Year

Data Source: Child Care Services Association Early Childhood Workforce Studies and Division of Child Development and Early Education (DCDEE), NC Department of Health and Human Services (NCDHHS)

Education of Early Childhood Center Directors by Year

Data Source: Child Care Services Association Early Childhood Workforce Studies and Division of Child Development and Early Education (DCDEE), NC Department of Health and Human Services (NCDHHS)

Sub-Target 4: Workforce Turnover for Full-Time Teachers  

Percent of Full-Time Early Care and Education Teachers in North Carolina Who Left Their Centers During the Previous 12 Months 

Data Source: Division of Child Development and Early Education (DCDEE), NC Department of Health and Human Services (NCDHHS)

*Technical note: Aggregate separation rates were constructed by summing the number of staff reported by center directors as working in their centers and dividing that by the number they reported as having left employment in the previous year.