Blog

By Marsha Basloe, CCSA President

This is a heartbreaking fact – the number of young children experiencing homelessness in the United States has grown in the last decade. In fact, this number increased to more than 1.4M in 2017-2018 [i]. That is one out of every 16 young children. What does that look like? Picture a preschool classroom and imagine that one of the young children sitting on the floor listening to the teacher read a favorite book is living in a shelter, on someone else’s couch, in their family’s car, in a cramped motel room or perhaps sleeping somewhere different every night! The ramifications of this level of destabilization on children and families are tremendous. Negative consequences abound. Being homeless as a child can cause negative effects that last for the rest of someone’s life. And, there are concerns today, that the COVID-19 health pandemic will increase family homelessness even more.

Ensuring the early learning and development of our country’s youngest children is essential to Child Care Services Association’s (CCSA) work. Supporting the well-being of these young children and their families is an urgent task and one that is critical to improving the long-term educational outcomes of children nationwide. It is why CCSA is pleased to release the validated and revised Early Childhood Self-Assessment Tool for Shelters, in partnership with the Administration for Children and Families (ACF), U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. This tool is designed to guide shelter staff in creating safe, developmentally appropriate environments for infants, toddlers, preschoolers and their families who are experiencing homelessness.

Often young children experiencing homelessness do not receive the social-emotional, educational, medical, mental health and/or special services they need to thrive. Infants and toddlers are particularly impacted by homelessness, with increased risk for early harm to their health and development, as well as having parents with poor physical and mental health, and additional hardships for families. [ii] In fact, infancy is the age at which a person is most likely to live in a U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) shelter. [iii]

Shelter staff can help ameliorate these issues for young children, if the shelter has a safe, developmentally appropriate environment for young children and easily connects to community partners who support early childhood development. The Early Childhood Self-Assessment Tool for Shelters can provide shelters the resources and information necessary to support the fragile young children in their care. With the tool’s abundant resources and guidance on best practices, shelters can assess how their programs can best meet the needs of vulnerable young children and their families. The tool also encourages shelters to develop relationships with local resources like early intervention and home visiting programs, child care and WIC, for help implementing new practices and to promote cross-program referrals. Finally, the tool guides shelters through developing action plans to promote positive experiences for children and families.

Knowing that safe and reliable child care is a key component of parents’ abilities to re-establish their lives and obtain steady employment, the self-assessment tool encourages shelters to build collaborations with early childhood programs in their communities. Many early childhood programs have expedited enrollment for families experiencing homelessness, and Head Start/Early Head Start programs are required to prioritize enrollment for these families. Enrolling in early learning programs gives children a chance to participate in age-appropriate activities that foster growth and development and learn at their own pace. Children who receive high quality early childhood education are more likely to be employed full-time and have more financial and personal assets as middle-age adults. [iv]

“The validated Early Childhood Self-Assessment Tool for Shelters has never been more important, as the COVID-19 pandemic is forcing more children to ‘shelter-in-place’ in environments that were not designed for young children, and at agencies that may not have expertise in early childhood development. Collectively, we must protect young children from the harm of homelessness, and take every step to make sure it does not limit their futures. This vital tool can help homeless shelters improve their physical environments, their practices and their partnerships to support young children at a time of great vulnerability, ultimately reducing the risk of experiencing homelessness as adults,” said Barbara Duffield, Executive Director of SchoolHouse Connection, a CCSA partner and lead organization in the Education Leads Home campaign.

The origins of the Early Childhood Self-Assessment Tool for Shelters

During my tenure as senior adviser for the Office of Early Childhood Development at the Administration for Children and Families, I had the opportunity to focus on early childhood homelessness. I quickly learned that homelessness among young children was on the rise and created numerous barriers for children’s development and multiple challenges for parents’ efforts at stabilizing their families.

Seeking ways to support both families and shelters that accept children and families, in 2014, we worked with a Congressional Emerson Hunger Fellow and developed the first edition of the Early Childhood Self-Assessment Tool for Family Shelters: A Guide to Support the Safe and Healthy Development of Young Children in Shelter Settings. The tool was shared by national organizations including NAEH, NAEHCY, CLPHA and SchoolHouse Connection and multiple federal departments as part of the USICH Early Childhood Workgroup. It was used in multiple locations across the country. People’s Emergency Center (PEC) in Philadelphia was using the tool in its BELL Project, and Sara Shaw was working with the project. BELL (Building Early Learning Links) connects early care and education programs to family emergency shelter and transitional housing providers to better respond to the needs of young children experiencing homelessness. Sara Shaw, a doctoral student at the University of Delaware under adviser Rena Hallam, associate professor in the Dept. of Human Development and Family Studies, worked on validating the tool as part of her dissertation. I stayed in contact with Sara during this process and helped coordinate support from the regional office so that she could obtain data from across the country. Her work was just amazing to me!

Fast forward to 2018, when, as president of Child Care Services Association (CCSA) in North Carolina, I continued my work with early childhood homelessness – providing a 50-state chart of CCDF plans by early childhood departments across the country and staying in contact with Sara as she completed her dissertation and validated this tool. In fall 2019, I convened a panel of early childhood experts at CCSA with Dr. Sara Shaw to explore the findings and changes that must be made and review the validated tool from an early childhood education perspective. Today, the validated and revised Early Childhood Self-Assessment Tool for Shelters is ready for release.

The public health and economic crises created by the COVID-19 pandemic are disproportionately impacting people experiencing homelessness. Shelters and other housing assistance programs, most of which are strained in normal circumstances, may be struggling even more to keep up with demand during this period. There may be more young children and families experiencing homelessness. We hope this tool will provide much needed support. Conversations are beginning with partners across the country as we develop technical assistance packages and a 50-state strategy for using the validated tool and connecting young children experiencing homelessness to services. If you are interested in being part of our research, please contact me.

You can find the Early Childhood Self-Assessment Tool for Shelters here.


[i] Yamashiro, A., McLaughlin, J. (2020). Early Childhood Homelessness
State Profiles – Data Collected in 2017-2018
. U.S. Department of Education Office of Planning, Evaluation and Policy Development.

[ii] Cutts, D., Bovell-Ammon A., et al.. (2018). Homelessness During Infancy: Associations With Infant and Maternal Health and Hardship Outcomes. Cityscape: A Journal of Policy Development and Research, Volume 20 Number 2. U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

[iii] Gubits, D., Shinn M., Bell S., Wood M., Dstrup S., Solari, C. (2015). Family options study: Short-term impacts of housing and services interventions for homeless families. Washington, D.C.: Prepared for U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, Office of Policy Development and Research by Abt. Associates and Vanderbilt University.

[iv] Sonnier-Netto, L., Landesman Ramey, S., Stack Hankey, M., Ramey, C. T. (2017). High Quality Early Care and Education Improves Adult Child–Parent Relationships (The Abecedarian Project). Virginia Tech Carilion Research Institute.

By Allory Bors, Research Coordinator at Child Care Services Association

At the two month mark since the first case of COVID-19 in North Carolina, we at Child Care Services Association have created this timeline intended to help us mark major developments and consider how far we’ve come. 

In our first post of the series, we discussed how the constant stream of COVID-19 news and developments can be disorienting. Before we have the chance to process one piece of information, we must urgently turn our attention to something else. Yet, advocating for young children, their families and child care providers in the long term will require us to stay vigilant and follow through.

For example, we have all heard about (or have firsthand experience with) the supports that should be coming to individuals, families and businesses through the CARES Act. However, thousands of North Carolinians have waited on the phone for hours to file an unemployment claim, and payouts have been delayed for weeks. Others have yet to receive their stimulus checks and small businesses struggle to navigate loan applications.

Even if the CARES Act works as intended, the Center for American Progress predicts a possible loss of 4.5 million child care slots nationally. Emergency solutions will require not only a great level of creativity but an understanding of context so we can say with confidence what will and won’t work to support the early childhood system.

If you or someone you know has firsthand experience you would like to share about filing for unemployment, finding child care or applying for small business loans, we would love to hear from you! Comments can be submitted by email here.

You will find some of the timeline’s highlights below. Click here to read the full timeline.

North Carolina COVID-19 March and April 2020 Timeline Highlights

March 3 Governor Roy Cooper announces first person in North Carolina to test positive for Coronavirus.  
March 14 In response to a growing number of cases, Governor Cooper announces a two-week school closure, which includes NC Pre-K and pre-K sites in public schools. Other child care settings are encouraged to stay open to meet demand for emergency child care.  
March 17 NAEYC releases preliminary results from a COVID-19 survey conducted among child care providers beginning March 12. Nationally, 30% of these respondents said they would not survive a closing longer than two weeks without financial support.  
Week of March 23Child Care Services Association (CCSA) launches COVID-19 Relief Fund for child care programs, in partnership with the North Carolina Smart Start network.  
March 31 Deadline for private child care centers and family child care homes in North Carolina to apply to stay open as emergency providers, which they must do in order to legally operate. Programs that do not apply are considered closed and are not eligible for some funding for this reason.  
April 3 NC DHHS and DCDEE announce that all subsidy payments to child care providers will be paid through March, April and May, regardless of whether the center or child care home is open or closed.  
April 10 The Bipartisan Policy Center releases results from a national poll of parents and guardians of young children who used child care in the last six months. Of parents who still need to use formal care, 63% reported difficulty finding care.  
April 22Harvard Center on the Developing Child publishes a statement paper titled “Thinking About Racial Disparities in COVID-19 Impacts Through a Science-Informed, Early Childhood Lens,” in light of data showing disproportionately high rates of hospitalization and severe illness for people of color.  
April 28DCDEE data shows that 56% of child care centers and 30% of family child care homes have closed since January in North Carolina.  
May 1 Employees of Walmart, Target, Amazon, Instacart, Whole Foods and more walk off the job and ask customers to boycott as part of an International Workers Day strike.  
May 4Unemployment claims in North Carolina reach 1 million, which is 20% of the state’s workforce.
May 8Governor Cooper announces Phase 1 of re-opening plan. Phase 1 includes loosening of restrictions with some retail businesses re-opening at reduced capacity. Previously closed child care centers are allowed to reopen serving families with working parents or parents looking for work.

Voices of Strength and Resilience in Early Childhood Blog Series

Introducing the Voices of Strength and Resilience in Early Childhood Series: What COVID-19 Teaches Us and What We Already Knew

Voices of Strength and Resilience in Early Childhood: The Trouble with “Heroism”

Voices of Strength and Resilience in Early Childhood: Unraveling May and June

Voices of Strength and Resilience in Early Childhood: Providers Need Support to Cope with an Ever-Changing COVID-19 Reality

To be continued…

By Tanya Slehria, Communications Intern at CCSA

The world as we know it has changed due to the impact of the coronavirus (COVID-19). Our daily routines, jobs and activities have all had to adjust to a “new normal.” During these uncertain and unprecedented times, many are scrambling for resources and unable to make ends meet.

In response, Child Care Services Association (CCSA) launched the COVID-19 Relief Fund in partnership with Smart Start to help child care programs in North Carolina with urgent and long-term expenses during this pandemic. This fund will eventually shift focus to helping families pay for child care once the immediate crisis has passed. 

GivingTuesday is usually celebrated during the holiday season, but given the current state of global crisis, May 5 has been dedicated as a special day of giving and unity in emergency response to COVID-19. #GivingTuesdayNow is a global generosity movement to drive citizen engagement, business and philanthropy activation, and support for communities and nonprofits around the world.

It just so happens that #GivingTuesdayNow falls on National Teacher Appreciation Day, a day that we especially love to celebrate and recognize at CCSA. Teachers educate and shape our young children, and early childhood educators are some of the most patient, dedicated and hard-working individuals in the workforce. Child care is the backbone of our nation’s economy; that has become even more apparent with the spread of COVID-19. It is more important than ever to remember that child care providers are essential workers. Our dependence on child care is crucial to the regular function of so many other jobs and industries.

We want to remind you amidst all the uncertainty to take today to appreciate the teachers who work selflessly to mold children’s lives in a positive direction, ensuring the success of their future‚ of our future. Take time to say a special “Thank You” to an exceptional teacher and recognize them for the inspiring work they do.

In addition, please consider donating to the CCSA COVID-19 Relief Fund so we can continue to support the backbone of our nation’s economy and protect early education that is vital to the development of children. Donate to help child care programs stay open now to educate and care for the children of other essential workers and reopen after families begin to return to work outside of their homes.

by Allison Miller, Compensation Initiatives at CCSA, and Tanya Slehria, Communications Intern at CCSA

The world is an uncertain place right now due to the impact of coronavirus (COVID-19). In response to the pandemic, Child Care Services Association (CCSA) launched the COVID-19 Relief Fund in partnership with Smart Start to help child care programs in North Carolina with urgent and long-term expenses during this time. Once the immediate crisis has passed, the fund may shift its focus to helping families pay for child care.

Amidst these unprecedented times, celebration is likely not the first thing on our minds. However, it is more important now than ever to remember the little things. Did you know National Coffee Day will be celebrated in September 2020? Or that National Donut Day is in June? These days, and many others like them, give us an opportunity to celebrate or enjoy these simple pleasures.

So, what is “Worthy Wage Day,” on May 1, 2020?

While early educators do not earn a worthy wage, this day gives us a chance to celebrate the early educators who work with young children and recognize that earning less than $11 per hour is unacceptable. We hope that teachers, families and communities across the country are taking advantage of this special day to raise their voices and say, “Enough is enough.”

Participants of CCSA’s education-based salary supplement programs, the Child Care WAGE$® Program and Infant-Toddler Educator AWARD$®, often say they could not survive on their hourly wages alone. One teacher said the supplement is necessary for her to stay in early childhood because she was earning $3 more per hour working in retail. Retail jobs are absolutely important to our economy, especially once we reopen our stores and restaurants, but early childhood teachers are the workforce behind the workforce. We see this especially today as our early childhood educators allow our essential workers to be able to go to work during this health pandemic! They deserve to be compensated based on the value they bring. Not only do they allow parents to go to their jobs, but they also build the brains of our youngest children, children who will become citizens, leaders, future parents.

Child care is the backbone of our nation’s economy

The importance of early childhood educators cannot be overstated. The reasons they earn so little are complicated, but basically, parents simply cannot afford the cost of quality care, and without an external source of funding, such as public funding, teacher pay remains low. However, as science continues to illustrate the critical need for educated, stable early childhood teachers, there is hope that the field’s compensation will become front and center as future budget decisions are made. And as COVID-19 continues to spread, as we are experiencing now what the early childhood field has always known – child care is the backbone of our nation’s economy.

What does the research show?

We all know that positive early experiences are the building blocks of brain development and that our early childhood workforce is a critical component of this construction process. Stable and engaging relationships between young children and the adults in their lives can have a lifelong impact. As brain builders, early educators need scaffolding such as quality education, opportunities for professional development and fair compensation. With appropriate support, the early childhood workforce can provide the experiences necessary to build trust and promote learning.

To have quality care for children, teachers must be fairly compensated. A worthy wage would be a wage that acknowledges and celebrates their importance for growth and development in young children and allows them to stay in early childhood as a financially competitive profession. The supplements WAGE$ and AWARD$ offer are designed to recognize their retention and education and help address the salary gap.

Participants and employers know firsthand the importance of these incentives. One director said, “Child care teachers are not paid what they are worth. Therefore, centers have a great deal of turnover. The majority of my staff have been with me for years and I am very proud of that; WAGE$ helps them tremendously with that.”

These supplements would not be possible without the ongoing commitment and funding from local Smart Start partnerships that choose to invest in WAGE$, and the NC Division of Child Development (DCDEE). DCDEE provides funding to help support the administration of Child Care WAGE$® and is the sole funder for Infant-Toddler Educator AWARD$®.

As one AWARD$ recipient said to DCDEE, “Thank you so much for seeing us for what we’re worth and helping take some financial stress off our plates. I truly feel well taken care of and appreciate the much-needed funds.”

Make it a priority

Teachers are worthy of fair compensation. It isn’t a question. On Worthy Wage Day, especially during the time of COVID-19, make it a priority to share your appreciation with teachers and to say to anyone who will listen that “enough is enough.”

How can you help?

Learn more about how you can help early childhood educators to either continue offering quality care to the children of essential workers or to reopen once it’s safe to, and to get the tools and resources they need during this challenging time.

If you are an early childhood provider

We are especially interested in your comments about how COVID-19 has affected you. You can submit stories of hopeful moments or have the chance to vent challenges by emailing us here.

By Marsha Basloe, President of CCSA

While many governors have closed K-12 schools for the remainder of the school year, child care continues to operate as an essential service in most states. This is certainly true for North Carolina. Why? Because many parents with young children need child care in order to work, and for those individuals who must continue to work during this public health emergency, child care remains an essential service so parents can continue working in hospitals, public safety, grocery stores, child care and other jobs that the public relies on for services or products at this time.

The current child care challenge

The challenge is that the economic model for operating child care as an essential service is not the model that child care center directors and family child care home-based providers based their business on when they first opened. Here’s what is known:

  • Many child care centers across the country have closed. Some have been instructed to close by their governors. Others have closed as millions of parents are home and do not need to pay for child care. Sharply reduced payments by parents, which comprise program operating budgets, mean that programs can’t pay staff or meet fixed costs. In North Carolina, since January, more than half (56%) of child care centers have closed. About 30% of family child care home providers have closed.[1]
  • Some states such as North Carolina are continuing to make subsidy payments for low-income children (whether or not children attend). And, some states are paying for the cost of child care for essential personnel who must continue to work and who need child care (in North Carolina, essential personnel can receive child care assistance if family income is below 300% of the federal poverty level).[2] But, because most programs do not serve either a high volume of children on subsidy or a high volume of children whose parents are essential employees, there is still a large gap between incoming revenue and operating costs to remain viable as a business.
  • In some states, the number of children who can be served in each classroom is seriously restricted (e.g., 10 bodies in a classroom, which includes one or two teachers). Such restrictions make sense from a public health standpoint due to the need for social distancing; however, the economic impact of these restrictions on a child care program can reduce operating budgets by thousands of dollars per month (e.g., a classroom of 18 or 20 4-year olds that is now restricted to eight or nine children is an enormous reduction in program revenue that may have previously offset the cost of caring for infants and toddlers, which is typically far higher). While North Carolina is not currently restricting the number of children in child care classrooms, child enrollment is typically far below licensed capacity, which affects the viability of the economic model.

As states begin to re-open businesses and the nation slowly ramps up employment levels, the business of child care will face new challenges. Currently, more than 26 million Americans have filed for unemployment compensation. In North Carolina, more than 500,000 people have applied for unemployment to date. How long it takes for those who are unemployed to re-enter the workforce is not known.

Three main questions to think about with regard to the economic model for child care

  • What will parent preferences be until there is a vaccine that protects against COVID-19?
  • What will the demand for paid child care be with millions of parents unemployed throughout the country and how long will it take for parents to gain employment? And,
  • Until there is a vaccine, what will the new model for child care be (e.g., social distancing and public health protections that may reduce the number of children per classroom or setting)? Will parents desire group care settings and will they be able to afford the cost of fees related to the new model (even if temporary)?

The Bipartisan Policy Center recently released the results of a parent survey throughout the country related to child care use and concerns.[3]

Parents with children under age 5 worry that their child care program won’t be open due to post-COVID-19 emergency closures.

  • 54% of parents in urban areas, 44% of parents in suburban areas and 37% of parents in rural areas are concerned their child care program will not be open.
  • 49% of parents with income less than $50,000, 47% of parents with income between $50,000 and $100,000 and 40% of parents with income more than $100,000 are concerned their child care program not be open.

Parents with children under age 5 worry that their child and family will be more likely to be exposed to COVID-19.

  • 78% of parents in urban areas, 75% of parents in suburban areas and 68% of parents in rural areas are concerned that their child and family will be exposed to COVID-19.
  • 67% of parents with income less than $50,000, 79% of parents with income between $50,000 and $100,000 and 74% of parents with income more than $100,000 are concerned that their child and family will be exposed to COVID-19.

Parents with children under age 5 are worried that they won’t be able to afford child care.

  • 53% of parents in urban areas, 44% of parents in suburban areas and 46% of parents in rural areas are concerned they won’t be able to afford child care.
  • 58% of parents with income less than $50,000, 49% of parents with income between $50,000 and $100,000 and 34% of parents with income more than $100,000 are concerned they won’t be able to afford child care.

Until there is a vaccine, and while child care is an essential service, the model for how that service is delivered needs to be rethought. In the past, the economic model for child care was fragile, but now it is unlikely to be supported by private pay family fees alone.

As states relax stay-at-home orders, what will parent preferences be for child care? What will parents be able to afford? Child care is essential; however, a new economic model is needed to ensure that the supply of child care meets parent preferences, ability to pay and is undertaken in a way that both meets public health safety needs as well as the cost of operating a program that supports the healthy development of children.

It is time for those discussions to begin. Simply relying on the past economic model will not work.


[1] NC Division of Child Development and Early Education (DCDEE) January 2020 operating child care programs compared to April initial estimates.  https://ncchildcare.ncdhhs.gov/Portals/0/documents/pdf/S/statistical_detail_report_january_2019.pdf?ver=2019-02-01-095328-820

[2] NC Division of Child Development and Early Education (DCDEE), Child Care Frequently Asked Questions for Providers, April 8, 2020, https://ncchildcare.ncdhhs.gov/Portals/0/documents/pdf/C/COVID-19_FAQ_for_Child_Care_Poviders.pdf?ver=2020-04-15-095004-747

[3] The Bipartisan Policy Center, Nationwide Survey: Child Care in the Time of Coronavirus, April 10. https://bipartisanpolicy.org/blog/nationwide-survey-child-care-in-the-time-of-coronavirus/

By Allory Bors, Research Coordinator at Child Care Services Association

The devastation caused by a flood, a tornado or a contagious disease is called a natural disaster. We often believe that a certain amount of suffering, death or loss is natural as well, pre-determined by intangible forces. We can forget about the behind-the-scenes decisions made over years by our legislators, our institutions and our communities. Those decisions can either spiral isolated events into a crisis or provide enough support to deescalate disaster if, and when, it strikes. For decades, the early childhood field has called for fair compensation, comprehensive benefits, tuition assistance for families and more support for the early childhood field. For years, early educators have been “teetering on the brink,” and without support, a significant percentage of the state’s private centers could close their doors permanently even with just a few more weeks of closures.

The COVID-19 crisis is a moment unlike any other, in which the invisible, undervalued labor that breathes life into our country’s economy and infrastructure is exposed. As professionals, advocates, providers, parents and community members, we have a unique opportunity to understand the work of early childhood providers and the work of other essential functions, historically considered “unskilled,” as part of the same struggle. We also must stay vigilant to ensure that, as other essential workers receive the recognition, hazard pay, sick leave and increased compensation they so deserve, child care providers are not left by the wayside.

The history of our nation’s under-valued and under-resourced early childhood system is already set in stone, but our future is not. When this crisis reaches an end, whenever that may be, North Carolina has a responsibility to build a strong early childhood system that is prepared for any crisis. We don’t yet know what the future will hold for North Carolina’s early childhood field. But we do know this. Our state’s early childhood providers, whether they be in a child care center, a family child care home or on a Zoom call reading to their children in pre-K, are resilient and creative. They have helped families through homelessness, health crises and natural disasters like hurricanes Matthew and Florence. Early childhood providers have always been on the frontlines in our state.

We also know that our state’s vast network of early childhood non-profits, CCR&R agencies and advocates will work tirelessly to support providers and families. Here at Child Care Services Association (CCSA), we are deeply grateful to be able to continue working mostly remotely. So far, we have set up a COVID-19 Relief Fund for programs, turned a National Symposium into a Virtual Forum, made payments to our T.E.A.C.H., WAGE$, and AWARD$ recipients, staffed the statewide CCR&R hotline as a resource for essential workers to be connected with child care, continued our payments to Durham PreK sites, delivered technical assistance to programs, prepared meals for child care programs operating and just pledged to use our kitchen to work with Durham County to prepare meals for children and families. We will continue to do everything within our power to support our communities and our state as the situation unfolds.

Voices of Strength and Resilience in Early Childhood will be a regularly updated blog series throughout the length of the international COVID-19 crisis. CCSA recognizes that we are all receiving information at hyper-speed. Each day is a new frontier, with new developments about the virus, new policies and emergency supports rolling out, and new strategies being used in both in-person and virtual classrooms. This information overdrive doesn’t always give us the time to slow down, connect with one another and consider how to move forward from a place of wisdom.

This series will be a place to do just that, to share what we’ve learned, chronicle impacts on the field and share our visions for the future. When the immediate COVID-19 crisis comes to an end, it will serve as an archive of how North Carolina’s early childhood field was impacted, and how advocates and providers stepped up to respond.

If you are an early childhood provider, we are especially interested in your comments about how COVID-19 has affected you. You can submit stories of hopeful moments or have the chance to vent challenges by emailing us here.


Voices of Strength and Resilience in Early Childhood Blog Series

Voices of Strength and Resilience in Early Childhood: Making Sense of March and April

Voices of Strength and Resilience in Early Childhood: The Trouble with “Heroism”

Voices of Strength and Resilience in Early Childhood: Unraveling May and June

Voices of Strength and Resilience in Early Childhood: Providers Need Support to Cope with an Ever-Changing COVID-19 Reality

To be continued…

By Marsha Basloe, president of Child Care Services Association

As I drove to work this morning, the conversation on my news radio station was around essential positions in our communities. They mentioned hospitals, schools, grocery stores and more.

We must not forget our child care programs and the early childhood educators who teach and care for our children every day!

As the coronavirus affects all aspects of our lives, I urge federal, state and local policymakers to consider early childhood educators as essential workers in today’s economy. Any measures taken by government to support Americans who do not have paid sick leave, early childhood educators must be included. These dedicated teachers are the workforce that supports all other workforces. With K-12 schools closing, child care centers must consider whether to remain open and risk exposure or to close and put their teachers and staff at risk of not being paid. The centers that choose to remain open might also be needed to serve additional children.

Early childhood educators are one of the lowest-paid workforces in the U.S., and often do not have paid sick leave or health insurance. And yet, this does not reflect their value to our children and families. Science tells us the first five years of a child’s life are the most crucial for brain development, setting the architecture for all future learning. “Early experiences affect the development of the brain and lay the foundation for intelligence, emotional health, and moral development,” according to Jack Shonkoff, director of the Harvard Center on the Developing Child. [1]

“The lack of paid sick days could make coronavirus harder to contain in the United States compared with other countries that have universal sick leave policies in place,” Rep. Rosa DeLauro, who chairs the House Appropriations subcommittee overseeing federal health agencies, said in a statement. “Low-income workers and their families could be hit even harder by the virus, as low wage jobs are at the forefront of not providing sick leave benefits.” [2].

“Workers should never be forced to choose between staying home or working while sick to earn a living,” said Congressman David Price. [3] While it didn’t pass in Congress, Congressman Price co-sponsored Rep. DeLauro’s Healthy Families Act “because we need a national paid sick leave policy to help families take care of illnesses and the financial burden it may cause. And, it will help contain the spread of viruses like coronavirus by allowing sick workers to remain home.” [3]

Early childhood educators ARE essential personnel. If federal, state and local governments are going to support essential jobs, we must also support our child care workforce and our early childhood programs.

We hope that North Carolina will consider multiple areas to support programs and families, including:

  • Adjusting payment policies so they are based on enrollment of children rather than actual attendance;
  • Waiving any state policies that terminate child eligibility based on a specific number of absent days;
  • Temporarily suspending redetermination of family eligibility for child care services;
  • Allowing providers to waive co-pays and adjusting reimbursement rates accordingly.

There are many more ways we can support our communities, and we would be happy to work with the state on this. We need to ensure that we support our early childhood community!

“Every child deserves the best chance to succeed,” said Gov. Roy Cooper. “That means we have to support families, early childhood teachers, and all those who have an impact on early childhood development.” [4]


[1] The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, Medicine. From Neurons to Neighborhoods: The Science of Early Childhood Development.

[2] The Hill. Democrats introduce bill to guarantee paid sick leave in response to coronavirus.

[3] Congressman David Price’s Facebook Page. March 6, 2020 Facebook Post.

[4] Governor of North Carolina. North Carolina awarded $56 million to promote children’s well-being and early learning.

By Kay Ducharme, Regional CCR&R Senior Manager at Child Care Services Association

Part III: Why is data important?

For Child Care Services Association (CCSA), collecting data about the impact and effects of high quality child care is one of the most important things we can do for early childhood educators, young children and families. To that end, we talk to educators and families daily, collecting an enormous amount of data to analyze the needs of families and early childhood educators. In fact, we are the only organization in North Carolina that collects data on child care supply and demand. This information helps us strengthen and innovate the child care system for families, child care providers, programs and communities.

Yet, I am often asked why we have to collect all of this data. In short, data is absolutely vital to ensuring that all children have access to high quality child care led by educated and motivated teachers.

For example, recent data indicates decreases in the number of classrooms, family child care homes and the total number in the child care workforce. Since child care resource and referral (CCR&R) is the only system that collects data on both supply and demand, we continue to help families locate child care as the supply decreases and the need increases. We also work to help start-up new programs to fill gaps where the supply of child care is limited. Our data can be used to help us advocate for change in public policy. And we need data to accurately tell the story of what families and providers across North Carolina need to strengthen services for families and the early childhood education field.

Federal funds to support CCR&R are a part of the Child Care Development Block Grant (CCDBG). The state’s Division of Child Development and Early Education (DCDEE) defines goals each year for the Council to help North Carolina meet federal block grant requirements. Regional CCR&R Lead Agencies receive funding from the Council to provide services in the 14 CCR&R regions based on population, community and child care demographics, workforce numbers and number of classrooms in the region, etc. The Council reports outcomes, outputs and demographics to DCDEE each year. These reports enable us to analyze customer needs and identify gaps in services and trends in each of North Carolina’s 100 counties.

Statewide in FY19, the NC CCR&R system data indicated that the 14 regions trained 24,180 early educators; 3,077 of those training participants received CEUs. In addition to training, CCR&R agencies provided technical assistance to 6,171 classrooms/homes and consumer education and/or consultation to 21,738 households across the state. Ninety-eight percent (98%) of families surveyed said they used quality indicators when choosing child care and 97% of the families surveyed indicated that they chose a 3-5 star rated child care program after using CCR&R services. By collecting data in a consistent manner using defined data sets, data is monitored to ensure reliability.

To access a membership to the website for CCR&R staff, please contact Mary Erwin, NC CCR&R Council Coordinator at Child Care Services Association, here.

For more in-depth knowledge of the CCR&R system, training sessions are available each year throughout the state for new staff. The final one for this fiscal year will be held in Greenville, N.C., at the Martin-Pitt Partnership for Children, April 23 at 9:30 a.m. You can register for the training session here.

To read the first part of this series on what the statewide CCR&R is, click here.

To read the second part of this series on what the NC CCR&R Council is, click here.

By Kay Ducharme, Regional CCR&R Senior Manager at Child Care Services Association

Part II: What is the NC CCR&R Council?

The NC CCR&R Council was designed by the state’s Division of Child Development and Early Education (DCDEE) to standardize the delivery of child care resource and referral (CCR&R) services and provide equitable funding across the state. Before the Council was created, North Carolina had a fragmented, under-resourced CCR&R system that delivered services to children from birth to 5 or birth through 12, depending on where they lived. Some CCR&Rs provided non-English services while others did not. Databases and reporting mechanisms were different and data on programs, children and families served was not collected in a consistent manner. This made it impossible to provide accurate statewide data when advocating for changes in public policy or reporting to federal or state governments on the successes and/or gaps in services across North Carolina.

The Council allowed DCDEE to ensure that CCR&R services were equitably funded and available in communities across the state for providers and families of children from birth through age 12 in the two most commonly used languages, no matter where they lived or worked. In addition, they wanted to ensure that the system was data driven and that data was collected consistently. This allows DCDEE to paint an accurate picture of what is happening in North Carolina for policymakers using consistent statistical data. It was also created with a flexible structure to accommodate emerging needs as priorities and funding sources change.

Today, the Council manages and delivers CCR&R core services and special initiatives which include providing technical assistance and training to early care and education professionals, helping families locate child care services, collecting and analyzing data to help shape public policy and provide community awareness, helping young children build strong social-emotional behaviors, helping support babies, helping improve school-age services and others as requested by DCDEE. The Council collaborates with other early childhood entities in North Carolina to strengthen early childhood and also leads many projects that increase the quality and availability of child care, provides research and advocates for child care policies that positively impact the lives of children and families.

The three agencies chosen to partner as the Council—Child Care Services Association, Child Care Resources Inc. and Southwestern Child Development Commission—are referred to as Council Management Agencies (CMAs) and each one is responsible for the management of 4 to 5 regions (inclusive of their own region). Below is a map showing how regions are structured today.

A wealth of information is provided by the Council to support CCR&Rs, children, families, providers and communities. In addition to training and technical assistance, other resources provided to CCR&Rs include:

  • train the trainer classes;
  • an annual conference;
  • email and advocacy alerts;
  • regulatory changes and notices;
  • collaborative meetings;
  • definitions/instructions and data collection forms;
  • regional directories;
  • a monthly news blast with early childhood news and links to regional training calendars;
  • a website;
  • Art and Science of TA and Emergency Preparedness training calendars;
  • manuals;
  • workgroups; and
  • contract management.

Read more about why the data collected is important in the final part of this series here.

To read the first part of this series on what the statewide CCR&R is, click here.

By Kay Ducharme, Regional CCR&R Senior Manager at Child Care Services Association

Part I: What is the Statewide CCR&R?

CCR&R stands for child care resource and referral. It is carried out by organizations that focus on building the supply of child care and supporting child care programs through training and technical assistance for early childhood educators. CCR&R agencies emerged in the early 1970s to help families locate child care as more women began entering the workforce. As young families became more mobile and moved away from home to take jobs in other places, leaving their support systems behind, the demand for child care increased dramatically. North Carolina’s first CCR&R agency was the Durham Day Care Council, established in 1974. Day Care Services Association in Orange County and Durham Day Care Council merged in 1999 to become Child Care Services Association (CCSA).

Today, CCR&R core services include helping parents locate child care, advocating for the needs of families and young children, building the supply of quality child care through training and other resources for programs, bridging child care and education and gathering important data on child care needs/trends. In North Carolina, CCR&R is done by organizations in 14 regions and overseen by three agencies: Child Care Services Association (CCSA) in the Triangle area, Child Care Resources Inc. (CCRI) in the Charlotte area and Southwestern Child Development Commission (SWCDC) in western North Carolina. These agencies are referred to as the Council Management Agencies (CMAs) and each one is responsible for the management of four or five regions, including their own.

Learn more about the NC CCR&R Council that is comprised of the three CMAs including a map breaking down the 14 regions in the next part here.

To read the final part of this series about why the data collected is important, click here.