Durham County's Full Statement on Equity in Early Childhood Education
As a County, we believe that every child in Durham should have access to affordable, high-quality pre-K. Our community has come together in a powerful way to develop a collaborative model for universal pre-K. We are proud to partner with Child Care Services Association, Durham’s Partnership for Children, Durham Public Schools, and other critical early childhood agencies to make the program a reality. We invest over five million dollars in Durham PreK each year because research tells us that a year in high-quality Pre-K provides many years of future benefits related to social-emotional health and success in school and life. The benefits are especially significant for children of color and children whose families experience financial hardship.
In addition to the targeted benefits in educational outcomes, we are committed to universal pre-K in Durham because we know that all children benefit from learning together in diverse classrooms. We strongly support the role of high-quality pre-K in helping our youngest children develop a healthy self-image, including a positive racial identity. Research also shows that these environments provide opportunities for friendships across race and ethnicity, which promote empathy and cultural competence. These are foundational skills that will continue to serve our County’s children long into the future.
Beyond the child-level benefits, Durham PreK is improving teacher compensation and providing directors and teachers at participating sites with strong professional development and technical assistance. We believe these improvements will influence quality, stability, and compensation in the rest of our child care system. Investments in a stronger, more resilient child care system directly influence equity in our workforce, the people who are caring for our youngest children. In Durham and in many parts of the country, this is especially significant because the child care workforce is largely made up of women of color.
As a Board, the investment in Durham PreK is one of the most important investments that we are making in our County. The relationship of accessible, high-quality pre-K to equity at the child and system levels is why this investment is so critical. The funding we provide for Durham PreK is a direct investment in a more equitable child care system and in more equitable futures for young children in our County.