Children who are healthy, safe and connected to nurturing environments have the best opportunity to thrive, succeed in school and become productive members of our society.
Our friends at N.C. Mom’s Rising and The First 2000 Days Campaign have partnered to create a game that shows how investments in early learning, education, child care, infant mortality prevention and access to health care can help move our children–and state–forward, while cuts to these essential programs move us all backwards.
Check out the following message from N.C. Mom’s Rising, and come see the game in action at the 2013 Child and Family Day on the Halifax Mall at the NCGA, April 17, from 10 AM to Noon! To learn more the Chutes & Ladders tour, or to RSVP to attend a stop near you, contact Beth@MomsRising.org.
Right now in Raleigh, the Governor and lawmakers are discussing what investments will do the most to make NC’s economy stronger, our workforce better prepared, and our state more attractive to businesses.
We already know the answer. Not only is investing in our children the key to bettering their futures, it’s also the key to our state’s future.
Although the state has made considerable progress, we continue to struggle to provide our children with the start they need. Unfortunately, right now:
- More than 1 in 4 children in the state live in poverty and in food-insecure households.
- NC ranks 48th in per-pupil spending on public schools and teacher pay.
- NC ranks in the bottom 5 for infant mortality rate in the US.
- 1 in every 11 children in North Carolina is uninsured.
- 43,104 children from working poor families were on the wait list for child care subsidy in November 2012.
Without adequate funding for critical public services, even more children will be denied the chance to grow into productive, engaged, and economically-secure adults.
And yet, children’s services have absorbed major cuts recently. Years of a cuts-only approach to balancing the budget have led to long waiting lists for pre-kindergarten and subsidized child care programs, teacher layoffs, and the elimination of other key programs. Further substantial cuts to children’s services would undermine the health, safety, and opportunities of the state’s children, ultimately jeopardizing North Carolina’s future prosperity.
The good thing is that we know what works:
High quality early education programs help our children succeed in school and life. Research shows that it’s in the first years of life that the brain undergoes its biggest growth. According to neuroscientists at Harvard University’s Center on the Developing Child, “Early experiences determine whether a child’s brain architecture will provide a strong or weak foundation for all future learning, behavior, and health.” Leading economists agree that prioritizing funding to early childhood education provides taxpayers with returns of 7-10% per year for every dollar invested due to future reduced costs in remedial education, health, criminal justice system expenditures, and the tax revenues generated from increased earnings.
Child care subsidies help low-income, working parents afford quality child care for their children. Three-quarters of NC moms with kids under 18 work, yet access to quality, affordable childcare is all too often nearly impossible to find. The state’s child-care subsidies program, designed to bridge the gap between what low-income families can afford and high child-care costs is given to help offset child care costs for eligible families that show they otherwise can’t work or attend school, or for children in situations where abuse has been alleged or in the child protective services system. Statewide, 75,000 children benefit from the subsidies, with more than 40,000 families on waiting lists for slots. These essential subsidies help families keep working at a time when NC’s unemployment is among the highest in the nation and holding onto a job is key to family economic security.
K-12 Education- As a recent report by the National Governors Association observed, “states that have a higher average level of education tend to have greater levels of economic success.” NC’s graduation rates are at an all-time high beating the national average, despite recent budget cuts and teacher layoffs. Among the top factors cited whether businesses locate to a community are lifestyle factors such as the availability of good quality schools for their children.
Infant Mortality Prevention-Targeted investments in infant mortality prevention led to the sharpest drop in two decades in 2010, dipping from nearly eight deaths per 1,000 live births to seven, the lowest rate ever recorded in the state. This is a tremendous improvement from 1988 when North Carolina’s rate was the worst in the nation with 12.6 deaths per 1,000 and much of the success has been credited to patchwork of state- and federally-funded programs focused on maternal and child health. A slight uptick last year and a persisting racial gap are powerful reminders we still have a long way to go, but these investments are paying off.
Health Care for Kids-Despite high unemployment and declining family economic security, Medicaid and N.C. Health Choice have helped to safeguard children’s access to health insurance, providing roughly one in every two children in the state (1.1 million) with the medical coverage they need to remain in good health.
We know that investing in proven programs will lead to a better future for children and our state.
Now we just have to make sure our lawmakers know the answer, too.
Join us April 17 to play Chutes & Ladders and deliver a powerful message to our lawmakers about the importance of giving NC’s children a good start!
Tour stops are also scheduled for the following locations:
- April 6-Southport in Brunswick County, Kids Day in the Park, 11-2
- April 12-Goldsboro, Goldsboro Cornerstone Commons, 10-1
- April 13-Asheville, Healthy Kids Day, Pack Square Park, 11-5,
- April 17-General Assembly in Raleigh, Child & Family Day, Halifax Mall (located behind the General Assembly at 16 W. Jones St., 10-12
- April 22-Durham-Details coming soon!
- April 26-Wilmington, Smart Start of New Hanover County, 3534 S. College Rd., 10-12
- May 6-Greenville-Details coming soon!
- May 13-Charlotte-Details coming soon!
Together we are a powerful (and fun!) voice for NC’s children and families!
Visit N.C. Mom’s Rising online at www.momsrising.org/northcarolina.
Visit The First 2000 Days Campaign online at www.first2000days.org.