The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services today released a draft of the state’s Early Childhood Action Plan, following Governor Roy Cooper’s Executive Order in August directing DHHS to spearhead the development of a statewide early childhood plan. The public is encouraged to review and comment on the draft plan by Nov. 30.
The Early Childhood Action Plan presents a bold vision for children from birth through age 8, focusing on improving outcomes related to children’s health, safety and well-being, and developmental and academic readiness. The Early Childhood Action Plan will provide a framework to galvanize coordinated action across public and private stakeholders throughout North Carolina.
“We know that the first eight years of a child’s life is a foundational period for brain growth and healthy development with lifelong implications,” said DHHS Secretary Mandy Cohen, M.D. “We must work together toward a future where all of our children grow up healthy in safe and nurturing families, schools and communities.”
A child’s early years can have lifelong physical, social and emotional impact. While positive experiences and environments can set up a young child on a stronger lifelong path, traumatic experiences or environments during those formative years can have long-lasting, detrimental impact.
The Early Childhood Action Plan centers around measurable changes in outcomes in those early years and includes 10 data-informed goals.
“We ask parents, families and stakeholders across North Carolina to give us feedback on this draft,” said DHHS Principal Deputy Secretary Susan Perry-Manning. “We want to incorporate as many perspectives and voices as possible to make this truly North Carolina’s plan.”
DHHS has worked extensively with over 350 stakeholders from across North Carolina to develop and create the draft plan, including the Early Childhood Advisory Council (ECAC). DHHS will also engage in dialogue and listening sessions in November in communities across the state to gather ongoing, targeted feedback.
After DHHS has reviewed public input on the draft, the department will coordinate with the Early Childhood Advisory Council to make revisions to the Early Childhood Action Plan, including detailed recommendations for statewide and local strategies, for a full release in early 2019.
For more information about the draft Early Childhood Action Plan and the department’s ongoing commitment to early childhood, visit www.ncdhhs.gov/early-childhood. North Carolinians are encouraged to provide feedback on the draft plan by Nov. 30 by email to ECAP@dhhs.nc.gov.