Press release from Dogwood Health Trust:
Dogwood Health Trust is hosting an informational webinar on Wednesday, Sept. 13 at 12:00 p.m. to share the findings from a listening tour developed with the goal to understand barriers and facilitators to childcare from the voices of parents and providers across North Carolina. In its latest commissioned study, Dogwood partnered with NC Child’s Care and Learning Initiative (CandL), a collaboration of several North Carolina organizations managed by NC Child, to hear first-hand the concerns and needs of parents, caregivers and childcare providers. With support from Dogwood, CandL was able to host listening sessions in 10 additional WNC counties, for a total of 13. According to the report, oversampling WNC is an important component of creating a more equitable early childhood education (ECE) system in NC, due to the fact that WNC is at a disadvantage when it comes to accessible and affordable childcare, particularly for infants and toddlers.
“This study is a strong example of how Dogwood can partner to amplify voices of Western North Carolina and ensure we’re part of statewide conversations,” said Dr. Susan Mims, CEO of Dogwood Health Trust. “We’re pleased that as a result of these additional listening sessions, WNC-based grassroots organizations who work on early childhood education have been more directly connected to the ongoing statewide ECE advocacy in North Carolina.”
Across all counties that participated in the listening sessions, parents and providers define quality childcare as trust, affordability, and availability. A total of 56 listening sessions were conducted across 34 counties in North Carolina. In WNC, 199 parents, caregivers and childcare providers attended 18 listening sessions to voice their concerns and share what they want the early care and learning system to look like.
“This study affirms the importance of family voice and listening to what communities want and need to create a stronger, more sustainable early childhood landscape,” said Dr. Ereka Williams, Vice President – Education at Dogwood Health Trust. “We want our community to thrive for generations to come by providing parents an opportunity to achieve their goals and dreams, by giving providers the tools and resources for them to support children and parents, and by giving children a strong foundation for learning, development, and love.”
During the webinar, Elizabeth Byrum, NC Child’s senior policy analyst for ECE, Laura Bayzle, partner from The Link Group, Muffy Grant, executive director for NC Early Childhood Foundation, Dr. Devonya Govan-Hunt, president of Black Child Development Institute-Charlotte and Alicia Fordham, advocacy specialist at Children First/Communities in Schools of Buncombe County, will share their findings and offer a high-level analysis in addition to answering questions. Anyone is welcome to attend and may register here.
This study is part of Dogwood’s investment in early childhood education to ensure the region has the resources and sustainability to provide developmentally appropriate, affordable and accessible care and education so that all children in western North Carolina enter kindergarten ready to learn. Dogwood first commissioned research within the early care and education (ECE) landscape in June 2022 with the release of Early Care & Education in Western North Carolina: An Overview to Better Serve Young Children, Families and Programs. Soon after, Dogwood launched a multi-year effort with partners focused on growing and sustaining the ECE workforce for WNC communities.