Durham PreK holds the honor of being one of the inaugural locally-funded and managed pre-K programs with universal access in North Carolina. Since the pilot classrooms launched in 2019, Durham has been fortunate to have local officials who have been continuously supportive of access for all children without limits to eligibility. Before Durham PreK began, an early childhood task force presented recommendations for high-quality universal pre-K. While already committed to finding a path to universal care, this prompted Durham County Government to fund a supply and demand study to determine the state of preschool access in Durham County. That supply and demand study revealed there were over 9,200 preschool-age children in Durham County with about 4,300 (about 47%) living in low-income households. However, there were more than two age-eligible children for each public seat in a licensed classroom. The availability of 4- or 5-star high-quality seats was even lower. Soon after, these steps led to the implementation of Durham PreK.
Since 2019, Durham County Commissioners have continued their overwhelming support of high-quality early childhood experiences for all children. When the COVID-19 pandemic began in the spring of 2020, the Commissioners waived parent fees for families in Durham PreK for the remainder of the school year to support families and child care centers during a time of economic distress. After a summer of continued isolation and hardship in our community and around the world, the Commissioners voted in alignment with the NC Division of Child Development and Early Education’s (DCDEE) decision to pay child care centers according to their allocations instead of paying according to attendance throughout the year.
In August 2022, NC DCDEE announced a plan to pay on allocations again this year for at least three months. In anticipation of a continued need past this fall, The Durham PreK Governance Committee voted to request additional funding to support pre-K providers for the full school year. In yet another immensely impactful and appreciated decision, the Durham County Commissioners approved the request for an additional $450,000 in instructional funding!
Durham PreK is so grateful to have the support of Durham County elected officials and the Durham PreK Governance Committee who have each made known their commitment to serving Durham’s young children and their families. Durham PreK providers also want to share their gratitude for this increase in funding because for many, it will have a significant impact on their small businesses and on family access to care. Please read their messages below.
“Growing Legacy Early Learning Center teachers, staff, and students extend our sincere gratitude. The financial support provided will allow us to continue to offer competitive pay to our amazing teacher, provide quality classroom educational aids, and further the mission to educate all the children in our care. Thank you will not do proper justice for the positive financial support the additional funds will help to keep our program operating.”
“Thank you, Durham County Commissioners, for your stalwart support of our young learners, families, teachers, and the greater community through your 2022-23 investment in Durham Pre-K sites. You serve as a model on how governmental entities should support small business, abate crime by investing in children, families, and communities during these unprecedented times. We are so thankful that we have a real educational/community partner through our Durham County Commissioners.”
“Thank you for your continued support. Our community deserves high quality child care options for families and your financial support is appreciated and needed. Thank you for investing back into the community. Together we can make a difference for families.”
“Thank you so much for making a conscious decision to provide funding to early education programs at a time when it is needed most. The funding will allow our center to be able to maintain high quality educators, sustain a safe, secure, and healthy learning environment, and provide access to resources that will enhance overall learning and development of children. Your support is greatly appreciated.”
“We are fortunate to have county commissioners that recognize the importance of our work in the community. Because of your decision to provide the additional funds needed to reimburse centers based on allocation instead of attendance for the remainder of the school year, our program did not [...] close down and we were able to retain all of our employees. It is scary to think about what the outcome could have been without your support so thank you, thank you, thank you!”
“Thank you for your commitment to provide financial support of high quality preschool learning experiences to Durham families.”
“Thank you so much for your commitment to the children of Durham and to our local small businesses. We rely solely on tuition to operate. As a result of your commitment to fund based on allocated spaces we have the funds to pay our dedicated teachers and operate high quality early learning environments that the children of Durham deserve. Thank you, thank you, thank you!