On Oct. 30, 2018, Buncombe County Commissioners approved a resolution to create an Early Childhood Education and Development Fund. The resolution sets forth that the County will invest $3.6 million annually, beginning in the FY 2020 budget, and that the investment will increase by 2 percent in future years.
"This resolution is about prioritizing early childhood education and development and helping to create a community where every child has an equal opportunity to thrive and where families have the support they need,” states District 1 Commissioner Jasmine Beach-Ferrara. “It's been an honor to work with fellow Commissioners, county staff, and community partners to prioritize the issue of early childhood education."
In 2017, Commissioners established early childhood education as one of six strategic priorities, moving toward a goal of ensuring that every child in Buncombe County has an equal opportunity to thrive during their first 2,000 days. Studies have shown that formative period is critical for development for lifelong health and success. High-quality early development experiences position children to enter school ready to succeed.
During public comment on the resolution, Commissioners heard support from community members as well as early childhood educators, students, advocates, and non-profits. Early childhood educator Caitlin Johnson emphasized the impact this funding could have on that critical time period stating that "when students come into Buncombe County schools without having high-quality preschool it's already too late."
The resolution states the funding will prioritize creating new childcare and Pre-K classrooms to serve more children; supporting affordable and quality care; implementing workforce development strategies to recruit and retain qualified teachers; supporting strategies for scaling up effective programs; and providing support services for children and families enrolled in those programs.
Next steps include developing a structure for community partners to apply to the fund and a mechanism for allocation of funds. As this strategic priority develops, we will provide updates and progress at buncombecounty.org.
Read the resolution.