November means a lot of things to a lot of people, but, for the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services (NCDHHS), the month is known as Family Engagement Month – and this week the NCDHHS announced a host of new early learning resources for families with young children.
The programs and tools – which are being offered by the department in partnership with PBS North Carolina – are a means to help families “understand the importance of early childhood education inside and outside the home” and “connect them with quality early childhood educators in their communities.”
Program information, access to benefits, advice and tools to help raise healthier children from a young age can be found at www.pbsnc.org/education/rootle-readiness.
Here are some of the offerings:
• Ways to find good child care services. The North Carolina Child Care Resource and Referral Council helps parents find high-quality, affordable child care and related services.
• Child care subsidy information. For eligible families, the state will pay part of the cost of child care. On the website, parents can learn how to find and apply for child care assistance in North Carolina.
• “Parents as a Child’s First Teacher” resources. State officials say that the brain development for kids that happens in the first five years of life sets the stage for future success. The state is offering learning resources for families through the National Association for the Education of Young Children.
• Access to Infant and Toddler Early Intervention Services. Children younger than age three with developmental challenges, and their families, may receive Infant-Toddler Program services and support.
• Social and emotional learning resources. Starting from birth, babies learn who they are by how they are treated, state officials maintain. Strong, positive relationships help children develop “trust, empathy, compassion and a sense of right and wrong.” Zero to Three is one program that “works to ensure that all babies and toddlers have a strong start in life.” Through the program, parents can get research- based resources and tips regarding young children’s learning and development.
Just like state social and health services, Guilford County is also undertaking new programs to see that newborn babies get on the right health and social tracks early in life. The philosophy is that, though these types of programs cost money, time and effort right now, 20 years from now those born today will be less likely to end up in jail or on the welfare rolls.
Ariel Ford, the director of NCDHHS Division of Child Development and Early Education, stated this week in a press release announcing the new programs that “A parent is a child’s very first teacher, but working families also depend on quality early care and learning teachers to help them raise their young children”
Ford added: “North Carolina made a historic investment thanks to federal emergency relief funds to stabilize access to child care programs and support teacher compensation, but staffing remains a challenge for many of our early care and learning programs. NCDHHS continues to work closely with families and the early care and learning community on long-term solutions so parents can go to work, well-trained and qualified teachers can stay in classrooms and children are safe and learning.”