At our October 30th Board of Commission meeting, we'll be voting on a resolution to create an Early Childhood Education and Development Fund and to allocate $3.6 million annually to this fund. The full resolution is available here.
In the past 18 months, Buncombe County Commission has significantly increased support for early childhood education and development programs in our community. We've passed a strategic priority to help ensure that every child in our community has an equal opportunity to thrive in their first 2,000 days, supported new Pre-K classrooms, and funded new approaches to workforce development issues.
It's been an honor to work with every member of Commission, county staff, and community partners, like the Asheville Buncombe Preschool Planning Collaborative, on these efforts. The presentation below, shared at our October 2nd Commission meeting, tells the story of the work we've done together and the needs that persist in our community.
We know there's a tremendous need for more quality early childhood education in our community. Only about 1/3 of kids ages 0-4 are currently enrolled in licensed childcare programs. Currently, 46% of children in Buncombe County live in poor and low-income homes and 21% experience food insecurity.
Behind every statistic is a local child and family who could benefit from access to quality early childhood education. Decades of research confirm that these programs provide short- and long-term benefits in children's lives, from education outcomes, to job and earning prospects, to lifelong health. These programs also benefit the peers, families and communities of kids who are served. Recent research shows a 13% return on investment for every dollar invested in high-quality early childhood education.
Creating an Early Childhood Education and Development Fund is about creating a community where every child can thrive. Funding would prioritize creating new preschool and Pre-K classrooms, supporting the workforce development pipeline for teachers and staff, supporting strategies that allow the current system to scale up, and providing support services for children and families served by these programs.
We'll be talking about all this and more at our October 30th meeting and there will be time for public comment before we vote on the resolution - hope to see you there!