The quality of early care and education in Richmond County continues to exceed the state’s highest standards, according to data released by the North Carolina Partnership for Children (NCPC). The data is part of NCPC’s annual assessment of county programs.
One hundred percent of county children in subsidized care are enrolled in regulated child care programs, according to the report. The state’s minimum standard for subsidized enrollment is 90 percent, while the high performing standard is 100 percent. More than 53 percent of low income children in the county are enrolled in a subsidized program.
Overall, the county’s regulated early care programs had an average of 4.12 stars in 2010-2011, based on the state’s five-star performance system, up from 3.96 stars the previous year. Sixty-five percent of all enrolled children and 83 percent of children in subsidized care are in four or five star programs, which exceeds the high-performing standard. In addition, 100 percent of children with special needs are in four or five star programs.
Although the quality of care is outstanding, the county needs more regulated child care to accommodate the county’s children. The county has 75 percent of the needed regulated child care spaces for working families.
“All children deserve the opportunity to learn in a child care program,” said Martha Vance Brown, executive director of the Richmond County Partnership for Children. “Numerous national studies have shown that children with high quality pre-school care are more successful in kindergarten and subsequent grades. That success carries forth throughout their lives, with lower prison rates, higher home ownership and continuous employment.”
But she added, “This is an excellent report for our county.”
The county achieved high scores in several other areas:
• Richmond County is just shy of high performance on the percent of children who receive early intervention or special education. The high standard is 5 percent, and Richmond County achieved 4.9 percent for children birth to 2 and 5.3 percent for children 3 to 5.
• Teacher education in child care exceeds the high-performing standard.
• The percent of children enrolled in Medicaid who receive a well-child exam is 79 percent in Richmond, up from 75 percent the previous year. The high standard is 80 percent.
• The rate of infant deaths within the first year of birth is five per 1,000 live births in Richmond County, which exceeds the high standard of 7.41 or fewer.
• Childhood obesity also has bested the high standard, with 9.4 percent of county children categorized as obese. The high standard is less than 10 percent.
• Less than half of one percent of children have elevated lead levels, mirroring the high standard.
Richmond County Partnership for Children is a non-profit organization that distributes legislature-allocated funds in Richmond County. The Partnership collaborates with local agencies to fund and promote programs that enhance the health, education and quality of life for children birth to age 5 and their families.
For information on Partnership programs in Richmond County, call 910-997-3773.