A welcome from Dr. Linda Chappel, Sr. Vice President at CCSA for Triangle Area Child Care Resource and Referral and the project lead for Durham PreK
Welcome back to school! We are excited to be working together in-person to serve our four-year-olds in supportive group learning environments, while following safety guidelines in the ChildCareStrongNC Public Health Toolkit. I salute the care, enthusiasm and dedication we see every day from our teachers, administrators, and support staff. The past 18 months have been a trial for our community and we are committed to supporting our youngest learners, especially in their social emotional development.
I have been privileged to work in support of children for many years and I know firsthand many of the challenges faced inside the classroom and out. Now, with the resurgence of COVID-19, our teaching teams are on the frontlines of this pandemic yet again. We are committed to assuring safety and are working to provide children with connections with caring adults and opportunities for friend building during in-person play—the best way for learning.
We are pleased to announce that Durham PreK’s Governance Committee voted to waive parent fees for the 2021 – 2022 school term in support of families during the pandemic. So many families face economic challenges and other difficulties during these trying times, the fees have been waived no matter your circumstances.
Durham’s community investment in our educators and in public preschool services is a long term investment in our students. For the new school year, the Durham County Commissioners voted to increase direct funding for Durham PreK by 6% to expand seats and further invest in teacher salaries and professional development. Durham PreK is one of the few public preschool programs in the nation that requires pay equity for teachers across all types of classrooms—whether they be in privately contracted licensed programs, Head Start or in public schools. In public preschool we cannot have sustainable high quality services until we prioritize pay equity across the system—public private partnerships are key to providing access universally but disparities in pay in preschool settings perpetuate inequities. For this reason Durham has prioritized compensation of the workforce.
Durham County supports early education broadly, investing nearly $15 million in the past four years to build Durham PreK as a program with universal access. The program’s theory of change centers on the teacher. High quality developmentally appropriate interactions have a direct impact on the socio-emotional, language and brain development of young children. Key components of Durham PreK include elevating workforce pay and professional development for early educators, intensive technical assistance and coaching designed to raise instructional quality and work with local educational institutions to increase and improve the supply of early education teachers.
Please join me in extending appreciation to our preschool teachers and teacher assistants as well as all of our early education support teams across Durham. We look forward to a great school year!