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DHHS Mobilizes to Make Progress on NC Early Childhood Action Plan

DHHS staffers discuss how to best align and prioritize work related to the NC Early Childhood Action Plan.

DHHS staffers discuss how to best align and prioritize work related to the NC Early Childhood Action Plan.

Nov. 6, 2019 – NCDHHS staff are mobilizing across divisions to make progress on North Carolina’s Early Childhood Action Plan. Department leaders recently spent two days working in cross-sector teams to strategize and make plans to leverage and align work in three priority areas for 2020.

Launched in February by Governor Roy Cooper, the NC Early Childhood Action Plan outlines 10 data-informed goals to achieve by 2025 for children birth through age 8. Informed by the state’s Early Childhood Advisory Council, DHHS will focus initial efforts on infant mortality, foster care, and early education.

DHHS Secretary Mandy Cohen welcomed attendees from across the Department’s divisionsDHHS Secretary Mandy Cohen welcomed attendees from across the Department’s divisions, including social services, child development and early education, mental health, public health, and Medicaid. She noted that achieving the benchmarks identified in the Early Childhood Action Plan will take a collective effort across public, private and nonprofit sectors.

Cohen emphasized that DHHS has a significant role to play in this effort, as the health and wellbeing of young children impacts every facet of the Department’s work. To reach the bold goals in the Early Childhood Action Plan, DHHS is working to change the way divisions work together by better aligning across shared priorities.

DHHS Deputy Secretary for Health Services E. Benjamin Money Jr. said the small group workshops were helpful in recognizing that many different Department have the same goal – improving the lives of young children.

“In our cross-departmental small groups it took a minute to understand each other's acronyms, programs and approaches,” he said. “But once we did, we quickly realized that we serve the families of young children and have the common goal of improving their well-being. This was a great first step toward coordinating our collective resources."

To support communities taking collaborative action, DHHS will soon be sharing county data for the 10 goals and more than 50 measures that are part of the Early Childhood Action Plan. Reports will be available in November for all 100 counties and cover issues such as infant mortality, food and housing security, emergency room visits, child health, foster care, early learning, and early literacy.

The Early Childhood Action Plan provides a framework to galvanize public and private action to measurably improve outcomes for children birth through age 8 by 2025. It is guided by the vision that all North Carolina Children will get a healthy start and develop to their full potential in safe and nurturing families, schools, and communities. It was created with input from more than 1,500 North Carolinians and builds on the work of NC Pathways to Grade-Level Reading, NC Perinatal Health Strategic Plan, and Think Babies.

Visit ncdhhs.gov/early-childhood to download the action plan, see how the state measures up on the Early Childhood Data Dashboard, and watch videos from the Early Childhood Summit held in February. 

Author: Tracy Zimmerman