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Speaking of anniversaries, the fine advocacy group Action for Children North Carolina celebrated its 30th last week. Executive Director Deborah Bryan sent us the following essay in contemplation of the event.  

Supporting Our Children’s Past, Present and Future

Since 1983, North Carolinians have raised millions of children–and we have millions more to go. Each in a small but real way holds the state’s future in his or her hands. Action for Children North Carolina exists to give them every opportunity to succeed. The last 30 years points the way for the decades to come.

Action for Children’s network of support has ensured that the voices of our children are heard in local and state government, school districts and even our state’s juvenile and adult correctional facilities.

Our advocates have worked tirelessly to:

*expand Health Choice to cover more than 140,000 children;

*ensure the passage of critical child safety laws like the booster seat law and the child bicycle safety act;

*orchestrate the ban of corporal punishment in nearly all of North Carolina’s school districts; and

*help lift nearly 300,000 North Carolinians, half of whom were children, above the federal poverty line through passage of the Earned Income Tax Credit–all successes we achieved together.

Even with all of these accomplishments, our work is far from complete. Read More

(This post is part of a blog series on the crucial role of quality early childhood education and child care in caring for our youngest residents, creating thriving communities, and promoting a healthy economy. Read the introduction to this blog series and learn more about the programs we?ll be discussing here.)

Helen LaddClara MuschkinBy Helen Ladd and Clara Muschkin

Education research clearly documents that investments in early childhood programs are among the smartest investments that states can make.  It is time now for policy makers from both parties in North Carolina to come together to reaffirm what previous policy makers in this state have well understood:  That we must invest in our young children today not only because it is the right thing to do for them but because it is the right thing to do for our state.  

North Carolina has long been a leader in early childhood programs. Starting in the early 1990s, then Governor Hunt led a crusade to address the many challenges facing young    children in this state, and for 15 years the state’s Smart Start Initiative and, later, its More at Four Program were recognized as models for other states. Over the years, various studies by the Frank Porter Graham Center at UNC-CH have documented how these initiatives have helped young children and their families address challenges such as poor health, low-quality child care options, family dysfunction, and lack of readiness for school.  

Along with our Duke colleague Kenneth Dodge, we have recently expanded that research by looking at the communitywide effects on third-grade outcomes of the Smart Start initiative aimed at children aged 0 to 5 and the More at Four program that funded slots in high-quality settings for at-risk four-year olds.  Read More

A new report from by analyst Laila Bell at the group Action for Children NC entitled “Healthy Women, Healthy Babies,” puts the decision of the Governor and General Assembly not to expand Medicaid into pretty sharp relief. Its common sense conclusion: expanding Medicaid to cover hundreds of thousands of low-income North Carolinians as is made possible by the Affordable Care Act would, literally, save the lives of a lot of infants born to poor moms.

Here are the key findings:

  • Healthy infancy and childhood begin with healthy mothers; women’s health before, during and between pregnancies is a strong predictor of the survival and long?term health of their newborns.
  • Maternal risk factors associated with infant mortality can be prevented or effectively managed with appropriate preventive care.
  • In 2010, North Carolina’s infant mortality rate hit a record low, but has since increased by 6 percent over the past two years. Most of the increase occurred among African American babies.
  • North Carolina has the opportunity to counteract rising infant mortality rates and reduce racial disparities in birth outcomes through Medicaid expansion. Under the Affordable Care Act, an estimated 500,000 North Carolinians—including 178,000 low-income women of childbearing age—would gain access to health insurance coverage.

Read the entire report by clicking here.

This was just released by the good folks at the Covenant with North Carolina’s Children:

For Immediate Release                                                                                                 

Juvenile Justice consolidation could have negative consequences for youth

RALEIGH – On Tuesday, 9/10, the Department of Public Safety announced the consolidation of the Divisions of Juvenile Justice and Adult Corrections into a single division, raising questions about the Department’s ability to focus on the unique needs of youth. Read More

North Carolina has dropped one place since last year to rank 35th in the nation according to an annual KIDS COUNT data report about the overall well-being of children in the United States. This data report determines and ranks states on the basis of performance in sixteen level indicators across four domains; economic well-being, family and community, health, and education.

North Carolina’s drop to the 35th spot largely results from the state’s lackluster performance in improving its economic well-being. Currently, North Carolina is ranked 38th in the nation for economic well-being, three spots below last year’s ranking. This data report breaks down economic well-being into four categories, each of which North Carolina failed to show any progress. The KIDS COUNT State Profile for North Carolina reports that twenty-six percent of children are impoverished and thirty-four percent of parents lack secure employment in this state alone. Accordingly, in North Carolina, the amount of children living in households with high housing burden costs has seen a four percent increase since 2005, and ten percent of teens are currently not working or in school.

In comparison to last year’s report, Read More