Annual Report 2023

Letter from the President

As we reflect on this past year, we are struck by the immense contrasts we often feel. Despite all of the challenges in our world today, there is still something inherently joyful and hopeful about early childhood, and we are grateful to experience this joy and hope through our work for young children and those who care for them.

In the face of hardships, we find hope in the child care professionals who show up every single day to serve children, families, and communities. In the face of disappointing legislative outcomes, we find hope in the advocates who never give up and continue to raise their voices for change. And in the face of continued underfunding and disparities, we find hope in the vision of a better future for all children in North Carolina.

Our work together is to turn this hope into action.

Thanks to your support, we have built a powerful statewide network of incredible advocates and partners, and a strong foundation of relationships in Raleigh and beyond. Together, we are entering 2024 with the determination to tackle the hard work ahead and a clear vision of what must be done. We are honored to be your partners and to lift up the people who are truly leading this movement – you.

We hope that you enjoy this year in review, as we celebrate all that we have accomplished together in 2023 and look ahead to the exciting opportunities that next year will bring. We are honored to work alongside of you. Thank you for your support and partnership!

Janice Price, President, NC Early Education Coalition Board of Directors

2023 Highlights

Policy and Advocacy

The NC Early Education Coalition is the only statewide advocacy coalition dedicated to promoting high-quality, accessible and affordable child care in North Carolina. We accomplish our mission of advocacy and education by: developing policy positions, researching and producing fact sheets, providing training and resources, cultivating relationships with policymakers and the media, engaging a full-time lobbying team at the NC General Assembly, mobilizing advocates, and collaborating with state and national early childhood partners.

Legislative Advocacy: The 2023 long legislative session began in January and had many ups and downs for early education. In the spring, the co-chairs of the Early Childhood Caucus introduced 10 bipartisan bills for early childhood programs, including one that would invest a critically needed $300 million to extend the Child Care Stabilization Grants. While we were thrilled to see the largest proposed investment in early education in many, many years, ultimately that funding did not make it into the final budget. The total budget spends approximately $30 billion each year, but is significantly lacking in investments in child care and other policies to support young children, their families, and their educators. With ample state funding available and very large reserves, legislators had more than enough opportunity to address all of the various aspects of our current child care crisis this year, but they have failed to do so. We view this year's final state budget as a huge disappointment for early education. Click here to read our full statement and a summary of what is in the 2023 budget for early education.

Early Childhood Education Leadership Academy: This year, we convened an additional cohort of the Early Educator Leadership Academy, serving 100 early childhood educators across the state. Participants in the Leadership Academy received memberships to professional organizations, a financial stipend for their time, DCDEE credits, and extensive training to provide context around the inequities that exist in the political system and the early childhood system, as well as training on how to use their individual power as advocates to influence policy and engage directly with policymakers. This was the second year of a three year project, funded by the Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina Foundation, and in partnership with the Educational Equity Institute. We are excited to see the impact these advocates will make and look forward to working with another cohort of early educators next year.


From webinars and trainings to in-person advocacy, our 2023 events brought together advocates, parents, child care providers and teachers, community members, and policymakers to raise awareness about early childhood priorities in North Carolina.

Child Care for NC: United for Change: On April 20th, more than 500 parents, children, early educators, business leaders, and community advocates traveled to the NC General Assembly in Raleigh - with hundreds more gathered in solidarity across the state - to send the message that child care must be a priority. With inspiring speakers, a rousing march, and so many children and educators reminding us all why we do this work, it was truly an incredible sight to see so many people standing up for child care. Along with a planning committee of partners, child care providers, and parents, we were proud to help lead the planning and execution of this highly successful advocacy day. Click here to watch a video of this event.

National Strolling Thunder: We attended the national Strolling Thunder event in June in Washington, D.C. hosted ZERO TO THREE's Think Babies™ campaign. Coalition staff was honored to accompany an amazing NC advocate from Eden, along with her husband and two young children, to talk to Members of Congress about the importance of affordable and accessible high-quality child care.

Celebrating Child Care Heroes: In November, we gathered with friends, colleagues, and special guests to celebrate our work together for our 3rd Annual Child Care Heroes event, which was held in person for the first time! Nearly 100 participants heard from inspiring speakers and legislators, attended breakout sessions on child care advocacy and policy, and recognized the winners of the 2023 Outstanding Early Education Advocate Awards. Click here to learn about our 2023 Child Care Heroes!

Think Babies™ NC

Think Babies™ NC seeks to ensure that North Carolina’s youngest children, prenatal to age 3, benefit from effective and equitable public policies, programs, and funding so that all children have what they need to thrive: healthy beginnings, supported families, and quality early care and learning experiences.

The NC Early Education Coalition serves as the backbone organization of the Think Babies™ NC Alliance, led by a cross-sector Leadership Team of state and local organizations focused on advancing public awareness and policy solutions for infants, toddlers, and their families.

Policy wins for babies: Despite an overall disappointing state legislative session this year, we are incredibly excited to see the passage of Medicaid expansion! This has been a top priority for Think Babies™ NC since its very beginnings, and we are thrilled that more than 600,000 North Carolinians - including so many parents and family members of babies and toddlers - will finally have access to the affordable healthcare they need to maintain their own health and the health of their children. This year also saw the passage and implementation of the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act at the federal level. This is another long-standing priority for the Think Babies™ NC Alliance, and this landmark new law will ensure that nobody will be forced to choose between a healthy pregnancy and their paycheck. In the face of other legislative challenges, it's exciting to see this important progress made for our youngest children!

Racial Equity: The Think Babies™ NC Alliance Leadership Team renewed its focus on improving racial equity and building stronger relationships within the Leadership Team. After the completion of a Racial Equity Assessment by consultants, as well as several months of racial equity healing work, the Leadership Team is moving forward on revising multiple components of the internal and external operations, communications, and membership of Think Babies NC Alliance. We are committed to creating a more equitable Alliance, which will in turn promote a more equitable policy agenda for infants, toddlers and their families.

BIPOC leadership pipeline: One of the primary racial equity goals identified by the Think Babies™ NC Alliance is: “Beyond inviting Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) groups to the table, to develop a plan to build a pipeline of BIPOC leadership in the prenatal-to-age-three (PN-3) space.” This project was created in the hopes of building a more diverse network of system leaders at the state and local level who will change the face of the early childhood prenatal to three sector in North Carolina. To truly affect change, it is necessary to shift power, address systemic racial issues in the sector, and add diverse voices to the field that lead to better policies and outcomes for babies and young children. Through a needs assessment and subsequent listening sessions, this project was able to begin creating a network of professionals to engage in work to diversify the field.

Get Involved

Young children and families depend on us to be their champion. Our work depends on you.

Now is the time to transform child care. We can't do this work without you. We need your help to continue our work to win new victories for young children, their families, their educators, and their communities. Every contribution makes a big difference! Here are a few ways you can get involved and support the Coalition:

Become a Member

Our members are a diverse group of statewide organizations, regional and local child care agencies, child care providers, and individuals. They are the heart and soul of our work and the best advocates we know!

Make a Donation

Every contribution makes a big difference! Your tax-deductible contribution will support work that is critical to making progress on issues impacting our state’s youngest children.

Contact Us

Want to learn more about the NC Early Education Coalition? Please explore our website or send us an email!