The summer of 2013 brought in many changes both nationally as well as internationally. New government take-overs, the fall of political powers, the threat of an impending war, the promise of austerity measures, and not to be missed, were the changes to the NC Pre-K program.
The former Division of Child Development now called the Division of Development and Early Childhood is now governed by the Early Childhood Care and Commission. This diverse panel of eleven members instead of the traditional seventeen-membered panel that once operated through the Human Resources Department is now housed in the Department of Health and Human Services.
With a nation-wide focus on budget cuts to education, the NC Pre-K program streamlined its organizational function to accommodate the severe budget deficit, but somehow maintain a greater degree of efficiency. Much of the eligibility criteria were driven by the Child Care Market Rate Study that was printed in June of 2013. The purpose for this study was to substantiate and ensure the payment rates so that the subsidized care payments would reflect the current market prices.
The study also examined the biennial rate which was done two years prior to the effective date of implementation. A survey of facts was also vital for accurate data input that would determine the eligibility criteria of the 75th percentile subsidy payment level for the program’s recipients based on the gross earnings of their parents.
Although there are additional eligibility factors, Some examples are: deceased military parents, or a child with an identified disability and an active Individualized Educational Plan, IEP. However, the primary criteria is still the 75th percentile subsidy payment rate.
Since the budget cuts have been streamlined, various aspects of the program including the amount of Pre-K students that would have been eligible to receive services, have been diverted to the Head Start program so that many of these prospective participants would now have to rely on the Head Start program to provide the early education advantage that is critical for their future educational success.
A greater transparency and cohesiveness between the two programs must be emphasized. This would minimize the risks that have been generated because of the substantial decrease in the number of students enrolled in the NC Pre-K program.
There must be a greater degree of cohesiveness so that participants in both programs may benefit from the federally-funded programs. The best of composite elements to consider would be the delivery of the programs' models, the current manner in which they are identified, and the curriculum content so that a child might be able to move easily between the two programs.
If a variety of models were utilized to service the individuals, the program might be able to accommodate more students with the same amount of government funding. This concept has been utilized by many school boards with various other programs and have proven to be successful in generating the numbers that could receive services in a cost effective manner.