By Rob Thompson
This week the Pathways to Grade-Level Reading Initiative will release its “Action Framework,” 44 action steps that North Carolina’s leaders can take to get the state’s children reading on grade-level in elementary school – and investment in early childhood is at the core. The release comes as new polling on early childhood programs from the NC Early Childhood Foundation reveals a staggering level of support for early childhood education across all political parties in North Carolina. You can read all the poll results at the NCECF website.
500 registered voters – evenly divided among Republicans, Democrats, and Independents – ranked education, and early childhood education specifically, as the most important issue in North Carolina. For voters of all parties, early childhood education ranked far ahead of reducing the tax burden on families or businesses. Republican voters choose investing in early childhood education as the top priority for the state, over reducing taxes on businesses, by 60% to 34%.
The vast majority of NC voters (80%) say that North Carolina should double its investment in early childhood programs – an increase of $400M annually. Voters of all parties support this increased state funding.
The poll was conducted in July 2018 by a bipartisan team of right-leaning and left-leaning pollsters, Public Opinion Strategies and Hart Research. NC Child encourages you to share these results with candidates for the North Carolina House and Senate, and ask them where they stand on making affordable, high-quality early childhood programs available to all North Carolina families with an initial down-payment in 2019.
More results from the poll:
Voters are concerned that high-quality, affordable child care is in short supply, especially for lower- and middle-income families. This may be reflective of the fact that more than 50,000 children are currently on the waiting list for child care assistance in North Carolina.
The percentage of voters saying we should do more for young children has increased 15 points since 2014, to 80% of voters. Only 14% of voters believe we are currently doing enough for young children in North Carolina. Virtually everyone (97% of voters) wants the Governor and legislators to work together across party lines on early childhood education. Voters understand the importance of investing in children in their early years. There is clear scientific evidence that the brain develops faster from age 0-3 than at any other point in life, building the foundation for all future learning, behavior, and health.
Voters are well-educated about the benefits of investing in early childhood education. They believe that high-quality early childhood programs help children achieve their third-grade reading goals (80%), and help the state develop a pool of highly-skilled workers (76%). In fact, many years of research have found that high-quality early childhood programs are one of the most effective tools we have to ensure that children are ready for Kindergarten, succeed in school, and go on to lead healthy, productive adult lives.
Whether you are a candidate for office in North Carolina, a professional working in the early childhood arena, or a community leader seeking to better understand the impact of early childhood programs, these poll results are a call to action. Read the full report here, and share it with your community.