Local News

N.C.'s early education program feels budget pinch

Posted November 11, 2009

— Budget cuts have taken a toll on North Carolina’s More at Four Program, which is designed to provide an education to at-risk 4-year-olds, program officials said.

One example is in Johnston County, which was funded for 469 slots this year, down from 472 last year. The current wait list includes 88 eligible children, officials said.

Early education program feels budget pinch Early education program feels budget pinch

Kids deemed "at-risk" are accepted in the program based on family income, special needs and language barriers.

“Part of our issue is the wonderful growth in this county, but not being able to keep up with it,” said Dwight Morris, executive director of the Partnership for Children of Johnston County, a group that helps coordinate More at Four.

The Partnership cut its transportation budget by half, and parents have to either provide transportation or pay part of the cost.

“It’s a challenge for all of us,” Morris said.

The Partnership for Children in Johnston County is looking for supplemental funds.

“The average cost of care for a 4-year-old in a five-star child care center in Johnston County is just over $600,” said Heidi Berge, the partnership’s community outreach coordinator. “More at Four currently pays $515 per child and requires lower staff/child ratios and more highly educated teachers, which drive the cost of care even higher.”

In Johnston County, Berge said she estimates that the cost to provide early childhood education and developmental services is $73.7 million for fiscal year 2009-10.

“While the need has increased by nearly 45 percent in the past five years, service dollars have only increased by 5.5 percent,” she said. “Current funding for 2009-10 is $30.8 million, only 42 percent of the total need.”


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  • flyguync Nov 12, 2009

    Unfortunately, for both the taxpayer and the early childhood education participants, these programs typically don't have very good results:


  • ryandty Nov 12, 2009

    United States, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke said, “Although education and the acquisition of skills is a lifelong process, starting early in life is crucial. Recent research—some sponsored by the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis in collaboration with the University of Minnesota—has documented the high returns that early childhood programs can pay in terms of subsequent educational attainment and in lower rates of social problems, such as teenage pregnancy and welfare dependency.” Read more...

  • erinbsly Nov 11, 2009

    thank you ladyblue! your dil is playing a very impartant role in the lives of these children and it is nice to know that someone else thinks these kids deserve a chance!

  • One Good Dad Nov 11, 2009

    My daughter is 4 and was not accepted in the Granville County program because she is not in "need". The actual taxpayers do not get any compensation(help) from the county. Most of the people whose children were accepted are unemployed and dont speak english. Its ridiculous that they even have the questionaire forms in Spanish for the people that cant read english and most likely are on public assistance and foodstamps, unemployed and dont pay taxes. Meanwhile, they are working somewhere off the books making more money than an average WORKING couple, struggling to get by with 2 paychecks. But still THEY get accepted. The requirements for getting accepted into any pre-k or More at four program should be more focused and the income and tax returns should be looked at instead of just the child. Honestly all children should be accepted because they are just the victims of circumstance, but its the parents who are trying to get away with pretending to be low income should be rejected.

  • ladyblue Nov 11, 2009

    my DIL works with them and you'd be surprised how many parents haven't even potty trained their kids at this age. how is a teacher to teach class to small ones if they are out there doing the things they should have learned at home. In my day and time women stayed home and taught the children but now they are out there struggling to make ends meet and the little children are left to anyone who will watch them. this is a stable environment for them as well as they are learning their colors, how to dress, how to go to potty, dress and put on shoes. You'd be surprised at the parents who send their kids to school with the wrong shoes on their feet. Porr things.d etc..

  • ladyblue Nov 11, 2009

    If you were there teaching these four year olds you'd think differently. Do you now how many out there who can't even put their coats on because no one at home taught them........They need to teach them things the parents should have already taught them before they hit K and need to start learning things other things. I think it's a good program and has been working quite well from what I understand. The program was designed to get them ready for school and that's what it does.

  • erinbsly Nov 11, 2009

    donnied 1952 home visits are required for maf and while i do not agree with everything you are saying i DO think they should have drug tests, and some type of employment or be enrolled in school

  • erinbsly Nov 11, 2009

    i did not know how many cold hearted people were out there! these are CHILDREN for crying out loud they are our future, as i said earlier if you think the system is broken write your local rep. and ask for it to be fixed instesd of taken out all together. the program could use some help so use your smarts to improve it!

    and lizard i still do not understand why you feel the need to make cruel comments it realy is not called for, not all teachers fail at what they do and frankly if this is the support thats out there i would say the sucess rate is great! have you ever taught? it is not an easy thing to do and too often a thankless effort

  • donnied1952 Nov 11, 2009

    harding0001 do you actually think these programs that our taxes are paying for is doing anyone any good. The only thing it does is allow the parents to have more free time and free babysitting. I think that if you child is in one of these programs then YOU should have to submit to a drug test, at random and be prepared for a visit to your home.
    If you don't pass the drug test, then they should be sterilized and the children taken away.

    I would rather pay my tax dollars for the children to be taken care of full time in a safe place, without the parents. I would at least feel that my tax dollars are being used in a more wise manner.

    I know you won't like any of that because you are a liberal, but there is a remedy to the situation.

  • erinbsly Nov 11, 2009

    the whole piont is THEY DO NOT GAT TAUGHT AT HOME i am far from a liberal i just think that all children deserve a chance and what kind of world do we live in when people refuse to reach out to a child in need!? i taught 4 year old that did not know their numbers, colors abc's......they did not learn at home but by the end of the year they had learned how is that not a sucess? they would have gone to k w/o this knowledge and never caught up. i would rather taxes be spent on them now than 20 years from now when they are dropouts living on welfare. i guess i am an opptomist :-)