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NC Pre-K 2019-20 Survey Report Slide 1 NC Pre-K 2019-20 Survey Report Slide 2 NC Pre-K 2019-20 Survey Report Slide 3 NC Pre-K 2019-20 Survey Report Slide 4 NC Pre-K 2019-20 Survey Report Slide 5 NC Pre-K 2019-20 Survey Report Slide 6 NC Pre-K 2019-20 Survey Report Slide 7 NC Pre-K 2019-20 Survey Report Slide 8 NC Pre-K 2019-20 Survey Report Slide 9 NC Pre-K 2019-20 Survey Report Slide 10 NC Pre-K 2019-20 Survey Report Slide 11 NC Pre-K 2019-20 Survey Report Slide 12 NC Pre-K 2019-20 Survey Report Slide 13 NC Pre-K 2019-20 Survey Report Slide 14 NC Pre-K 2019-20 Survey Report Slide 15 NC Pre-K 2019-20 Survey Report Slide 16 NC Pre-K 2019-20 Survey Report Slide 17 NC Pre-K 2019-20 Survey Report Slide 18 NC Pre-K 2019-20 Survey Report Slide 19 NC Pre-K 2019-20 Survey Report Slide 20 NC Pre-K 2019-20 Survey Report Slide 21 NC Pre-K 2019-20 Survey Report Slide 22 NC Pre-K 2019-20 Survey Report Slide 23 NC Pre-K 2019-20 Survey Report Slide 24 NC Pre-K 2019-20 Survey Report Slide 25 NC Pre-K 2019-20 Survey Report Slide 26 NC Pre-K 2019-20 Survey Report Slide 27 NC Pre-K 2019-20 Survey Report Slide 28 NC Pre-K 2019-20 Survey Report Slide 29 NC Pre-K 2019-20 Survey Report Slide 30 NC Pre-K 2019-20 Survey Report Slide 31 NC Pre-K 2019-20 Survey Report Slide 32 NC Pre-K 2019-20 Survey Report Slide 33 NC Pre-K 2019-20 Survey Report Slide 34 NC Pre-K 2019-20 Survey Report Slide 35 NC Pre-K 2019-20 Survey Report Slide 36 NC Pre-K 2019-20 Survey Report Slide 37 NC Pre-K 2019-20 Survey Report Slide 38 NC Pre-K 2019-20 Survey Report Slide 39 NC Pre-K 2019-20 Survey Report Slide 40 NC Pre-K 2019-20 Survey Report Slide 41 NC Pre-K 2019-20 Survey Report Slide 42 NC Pre-K 2019-20 Survey Report Slide 43 NC Pre-K 2019-20 Survey Report Slide 44 NC Pre-K 2019-20 Survey Report Slide 45 NC Pre-K 2019-20 Survey Report Slide 46 NC Pre-K 2019-20 Survey Report Slide 47 NC Pre-K 2019-20 Survey Report Slide 48 NC Pre-K 2019-20 Survey Report Slide 49 NC Pre-K 2019-20 Survey Report Slide 50 NC Pre-K 2019-20 Survey Report Slide 51 NC Pre-K 2019-20 Survey Report Slide 52 NC Pre-K 2019-20 Survey Report Slide 53 NC Pre-K 2019-20 Survey Report Slide 54 NC Pre-K 2019-20 Survey Report Slide 55 NC Pre-K 2019-20 Survey Report Slide 56 NC Pre-K 2019-20 Survey Report Slide 57 NC Pre-K 2019-20 Survey Report Slide 58 NC Pre-K 2019-20 Survey Report Slide 59 NC Pre-K 2019-20 Survey Report Slide 60 NC Pre-K 2019-20 Survey Report Slide 61 NC Pre-K 2019-20 Survey Report Slide 62 NC Pre-K 2019-20 Survey Report Slide 63 NC Pre-K 2019-20 Survey Report Slide 64 NC Pre-K 2019-20 Survey Report Slide 65 NC Pre-K 2019-20 Survey Report Slide 66 NC Pre-K 2019-20 Survey Report Slide 67 NC Pre-K 2019-20 Survey Report Slide 68 NC Pre-K 2019-20 Survey Report Slide 69 NC Pre-K 2019-20 Survey Report Slide 70 NC Pre-K 2019-20 Survey Report Slide 71 NC Pre-K 2019-20 Survey Report Slide 72 NC Pre-K 2019-20 Survey Report Slide 73 NC Pre-K 2019-20 Survey Report Slide 74 NC Pre-K 2019-20 Survey Report Slide 75 NC Pre-K 2019-20 Survey Report Slide 76 NC Pre-K 2019-20 Survey Report Slide 77 NC Pre-K 2019-20 Survey Report Slide 78 NC Pre-K 2019-20 Survey Report Slide 79 NC Pre-K 2019-20 Survey Report Slide 80 NC Pre-K 2019-20 Survey Report Slide 81 NC Pre-K 2019-20 Survey Report Slide 82 NC Pre-K 2019-20 Survey Report Slide 83 NC Pre-K 2019-20 Survey Report Slide 84 NC Pre-K 2019-20 Survey Report Slide 85 NC Pre-K 2019-20 Survey Report Slide 86 NC Pre-K 2019-20 Survey Report Slide 87 NC Pre-K 2019-20 Survey Report Slide 88 NC Pre-K 2019-20 Survey Report Slide 89 NC Pre-K 2019-20 Survey Report Slide 90 NC Pre-K 2019-20 Survey Report Slide 91 NC Pre-K 2019-20 Survey Report Slide 92 NC Pre-K 2019-20 Survey Report Slide 93 NC Pre-K 2019-20 Survey Report Slide 94 NC Pre-K 2019-20 Survey Report Slide 95 NC Pre-K 2019-20 Survey Report Slide 96 NC Pre-K 2019-20 Survey Report Slide 97 NC Pre-K 2019-20 Survey Report Slide 98 NC Pre-K 2019-20 Survey Report Slide 99 NC Pre-K 2019-20 Survey Report Slide 100 NC Pre-K 2019-20 Survey Report Slide 101 NC Pre-K 2019-20 Survey Report Slide 102 NC Pre-K 2019-20 Survey Report Slide 103 NC Pre-K 2019-20 Survey Report Slide 104 NC Pre-K 2019-20 Survey Report Slide 105 NC Pre-K 2019-20 Survey Report Slide 106
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NC Pre-K 2019-20 Survey Report

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A study done by the Frank Porter Graham Institute at UNC-Chapel Hill and funded by the NC Department of Health and Human Services on the barriers for maintaining, expanding, and becoming NC Pre-K programs

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NC Pre-K 2019-20 Survey Report

  1. 1. Ellen Peisner-Feinberg, PhD, Sabrina Zadrozny, Ph Laura Kuhn, PhD, & Karen Van Manen, PhD Effects of the North Carolin Pre-Kindergarten Program Findings through Pre-K of a Small-Scale RCT Study 2017-2018 Statewide Evaluation NC Pre-K Program Evaluation Project Opportunities and Challenges for Maintaining, Expanding, and Becoming NC Pre-K Programs Ellen Peisner-Feinberg, PhD and Margaret Burchinal, PhD
  2. 2. © February 2020 by Ellen S. Peisner-Feinberg, FPG Child Development Institute, The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. We wish to acknowledge the members of our research staff who provided invaluable support and effort to conduct this study: David Bogojevich, Elizabeth Love, Tom Leggett, James Peak, Cristina Luna Evans, Jennifer Osborne, Judy Owens, and Jada Walker. In addition, we offer our appreciation to all those who participated in and assisted with this study, including the NC Pre-K Contract Administrators and Providers and Providers of other four- and five-star pre-k programs across the state who willingly gave their time to complete the surveys, as well as the staff of the North Carolina Division of Child Development and Early Education, Department of Health and Human Services, and individuals from the SAS Institute who provided invaluable feedback. Suggested citation: Peisner-Feinberg, E. & Burchinal, M. (2020). Opportunities and Challenges for Maintaining, Expanding, and Becoming NC Pre-K Programs. Chapel Hill, NC: The University of North Carolina, FPG Child Development Institute. This study was funded by the North Carolina Division of Child Development and Early Education, Department of Health and Human Services. The opinions expressed in this report do not necessarily reflect those of the funding agency.
  3. 3. 1 Table of Contents List of Tables .................................................................................................................................................2 Executive Summary.......................................................................................................................................4 Study Overview.........................................................................................................................................4 Summary of Results ..................................................................................................................................4 NC Pre-K Funding History and Other Funding Sources.........................................................................4 Setting Information...............................................................................................................................4 Eligible But Unserved Children..............................................................................................................5 Possible Impacts of Expanding or Becoming NC Pre-K Programs.........................................................5 Possible Challenges to Maintaining, Expanding or Becoming NC Pre-K Programs...............................5 Recommendation......................................................................................................................................6 NC Pre-K Program Overview.........................................................................................................................7 Study Purpose...............................................................................................................................................8 Method .......................................................................................................................................................10 Survey Respondents................................................................................................................................10 Measures.................................................................................................................................................11 Procedures..............................................................................................................................................12 Analysis Approach...................................................................................................................................12 Results.........................................................................................................................................................13 Study 1 – Statewide Challenges to Becoming, Expanding, & Maintaining NC Pre-K Programs..............13 NC Pre-K Funding History and Other Funding Sources.......................................................................13 Setting Information.............................................................................................................................14 Eligible But Unserved Children............................................................................................................17 Possible Impacts of Expanding or Becoming NC Pre-K Programs.......................................................18 Study 2 – Local Challenges to Becoming, Expanding, & Maintaining NC Pre-K Programs .....................21 Overall Sample – Possible Challenges to Maintaining, Expanding or Becoming NC Pre-K.................21 NC Pre-K County Level – Possible Challenges to Maintaining, Expanding or Becoming NC Pre-K Programs.............................................................................................................................................23 Recommendations......................................................................................................................................25 Appendix ...................................................................................................................................................101 References ................................................................................................................................................104
  4. 4. 2 List of Tables Table 1. Overall Survey Participation..........................................................................................................27 Table 2. Survey Response by Type of NC Pre-K Contractor........................................................................27 Table 3. Survey Response by NC Pre-K Provider Program Characteristics .................................................28 Table 4. Survey Response by Non-NC Pre-K Provider Program Characteristics .........................................30 Table 5. Education Level by Respondent Type ...........................................................................................32 Table 6. Years of Experience by Respondent Type.....................................................................................32 Table 7. Acceptance of NC Pre-K Expansion Funds / Additional Slots (past 3 years) by Respondent Type33 Table 8. Types of Funding for Children by Respondent Type .....................................................................33 Table 9. Previous Participation in the NC Pre-K Program for Current Non-NC Pre-K Providers................34 Table 10. Size of NC Pre-K Contracts...........................................................................................................35 Table 11. Program Size by Provider Type ...................................................................................................36 Table 12. Average Weekly Operating Hours (Weekdays) by Provider Type...............................................38 Table 13. Frequency of Total Weekly Operating Hours (Weekdays) by Provider Type..............................38 Table 14. Schedule Options Offered by Respondent Type.........................................................................39 Table 15. Program Services Offered by Respondent Type .........................................................................40 Table 16. Typical Staff Salaries by Respondent Type..................................................................................41 Table 17. Level of NC Pre-K Contract Information on Eligible Children Waiting to Be Enrolled.................42 Table 18. Approximate Number of Eligible Children Waiting for NC Pre-K................................................42 Table 19. Frequency of Approximate Number of Eligible Children Waiting for NC Pre-K at Beginning of 2018-19.......................................................................................................................................................43 Table 20. Frequency of Approximate Number of Eligible Children Waiting for NC Pre-K Added to List during 2018-19............................................................................................................................................45 Table 21. Frequency of Approximate Number of Eligible Children Placed in NC Pre-K after Waiting for Opening during 2018-19.............................................................................................................................46 Table 22. Frequency of Approximate Number of Eligible Children Offered and Declined Slot in NC Pre-K after Waiting for Opening during 2018-19 .................................................................................................48 Table 23. Frequency of Approximate Number of Eligible Children Waiting for NC Pre-K at Beginning of 2019-20.......................................................................................................................................................49 Table 24. Frequency of Approximate Number of Eligible Children Waiting for NC Pre-K Added to List during 2019-20............................................................................................................................................51
  5. 5. 3 Table 25. Frequency of Approximate Number of Eligible Children Placed in NC Pre-K after Waiting for Opening during 2019-20.............................................................................................................................52 Table 26. Frequency of Approximate Number of Eligible Children Offered and Declined Slot in NC Pre-K after Waiting for Opening during 2019-20 .................................................................................................53 Table 27. Frequency of Approximate Number of Eligible Children Who Have Not Applied to NC Pre-K...54 Table 28. Frequency of Community Outreach to NC Pre-K Eligible Families by Respondent Type............55 Table 29. Estimates for Potential Expansion of Existing NC Pre-K Programs with Additional Funding by Respondent Type ........................................................................................................................................55 Table 30. Frequency of Estimated Additional Children for Expansion of Existing NC Pre-K Contracts ......56 Table 31. Frequency of Estimated Additional Classrooms for Expansion of Existing NC Pre-K Contracts .57 Table 32. Frequency of Estimated Additional Children for Expansion of Existing NC Pre-K Sites ..............58 Table 33. Frequency of Estimated Additional Classrooms for Expansion of Existing NC Pre-K Sites .........59 Table 34. Estimates for Potential Additions to Non-NC Pre-K Programs with NC Pre-K Funding .............60 Table 35. Frequency of Estimated Total Number of Additional Children Non-NC Pre-K Sites Could Serve with NC Pre-K Funding................................................................................................................................60 Table 36. Frequency of Estimated Number of Additional Children Non-NC Pre-K Sites Could Serve with NC Pre-K Funding in Existing Classrooms....................................................................................................62 Table 37. Frequency of Estimated Number of Existing Classrooms in Non-NC Pre-K Sites that Could Become NC Pre-K with Funding..................................................................................................................63 Table 38. Frequency of Estimated Number of Additional Children Non-NC Pre-K Sites Could Serve in New Classrooms with NC Pre-K Funding.............................................................................................................64 Table 39. Frequency of Estimated Number of New Classrooms in Non-NC Pre-K Sites that Could Be Added with NC Pre-K Funding.....................................................................................................................65 Table 40. Possible Impacts of Expanding or Becoming NC Pre-K Programs by Respondent Type .............66 Table 41. Possible Challenges to Maintaining, Expanding or Becoming NC Pre-K Programs by Respondent Type.............................................................................................................................................................67 Table 42. Possible Challenges to Maintaining, Expanding or Becoming NC Pre-K Programs for NC Pre-K and non-NC Pre-K Respondents by NC Pre-K Contract...............................................................................69
  6. 6. 4 Executive Summary Study Overview North Carolina (NC) currently serves about half of all eligible children in NC Pre-K, the state-funded Pre-K program for 4-year-olds, primarily targeting children from low-income families. To enhance understanding of potential barriers to increasing enrollment among all eligible children, the NC General Assembly (Session Law 2019-87, House Bill 886, July 8, 2019) ordered a statewide study of the challenges associated with becoming NC Pre-K sites along with a study of the local challenges, in support of the goal of enrolling 75% of eligible children in every county. In order to provide the Division of Child Development and Early Education, which oversees NC Pre-K, with information to address this legislative mandate, the FPG NC Pre-K Evaluation Team undertook two related research studies focused on the challenges to maintaining and expanding current NC Pre-K Programs and the challenges to becoming NC Pre-K Programs for those not currently participating. Both studies entailed a statewide survey of all current NC Pre-K contract administrators and providers and all current non-NC Pre-K providers of licensed four- and five-star child care centers. Study 1 examined four major topics: 1) NC Pre-K funding history and other funding sources; 2) Setting characteristics relevant to NC Pre-K service provision; 3) Information on eligible but unserved children; and 4) Possible impacts of expanding current NC Pre-K Programs or becoming a new NC Pre-K Program. Study 2 provided information about a fifth topic: 5) Potential challenges to expanding and maintaining current NC Pre-K Programs or becoming a new NC Pre-K Program. Summary of Results NC Pre-K Funding History and Other Funding Sources • Although most NC Pre-K Contract Administrators surveyed accepted expansion funds at some point within the past three years (about 40%-65% each year), over one-quarter declined expansion funds throughout this period and almost two-thirds of NC Pre-K Providers surveyed did not accept additional slots. Administrative records from DCDEE indicated that overall, more than one-third of NC Pre-K contracts across 34-44 counties declined expansion funds for their NC Pre-K Programs during each of the past three years. • In addition to NC Pre-K funds, NC Pre-K Contract Administrators and Providers utilize a wide range of other funding sources for children to meet the full cost of a slot not covered by state funding (approximately 40% in remaining costs). Non-NC Pre-K Providers, in contrast, primarily rely on state child care subsidy reimbursements and parent fees to cover their operating costs. Setting Information • Overall, information on the setting characteristics of both NC Pre-K and other four- and five-star non-NC Pre-K Programs reveals some similarities and differences. Considering that NC Pre-K Programs are located within other existing settings, including public pre-k, private child care, and Head Start, this is to be expected. • Few of the non-NC Pre-K Providers had previously participated as NC Pre-K sites, although a slightly higher percentage had ever applied. • The majority of 4-year-olds served by NC Pre-K Providers are in NC Pre-K classrooms. However, other 4-year-olds at these sites are not participating in NC Pre-K and some of these children are in classrooms that do not serve any children in the NC Pre-K Program. Most providers (both NC Pre-K and non-NC Pre-K) report serving a variety of age groups in addition to 4-year-olds, with children most likely in single-age (rather than mixed-age) classrooms.
  7. 7. 5 • Almost all providers (both NC Pre-K and non-NC Pre-K) are open for at least 6.5 hours or more per day, consistent with the school-day schedule of the NC Pre-K Program. Non-NC Pre-K Providers have longer hours of operation, are more likely to offer alternative schedule options (full-time care, summer program, partial day, partial week, drop-in care), and are less likely to have staff specialists. • Typical staff salaries were higher in NC Pre-K Programs than non-NC Pre-K Programs, particularly for lead teachers with a teaching license. Eligible But Unserved Children • NC Pre-K Contract Administrators are maintaining lists of eligible but unserved children, but generally believe that there are relatively small numbers of such children remaining within their communities, with about one-third estimating that there are none. • NC Pre-K Contract Administrators reported frequently engaging in community outreach to find eligible families or help them understand more about NC Pre-K, with almost half engaging in such activities 6 or more times per year. Possible Impacts of Expanding or Becoming NC Pre-K Programs • A slight majority of NC Pre-K Contract Administrators and Providers indicated that they could expand the number of classrooms and children with additional funding, typically the equivalent of one to two full classrooms or fewer. However, equally notable, about 30%-40% indicated that they could not add any additional children or classrooms. • Non-NC Pre-K Providers indicated that if they became NC Pre-K Programs, about two-thirds could enroll children in existing classrooms and about half in new classrooms, generally the equivalent of one full classroom or fewer. Conversely, they indicated that about one-third could not enroll any children in existing classrooms and about half could not in new classrooms. • The largest potential impact related to expanding or becoming NC Pre-K Programs anticipated by NC Pre-K Contract Administrators and Providers was an overall increase in the number of classrooms, while non-NC Pre-K Providers were more likely to anticipate increases in teacher compensation rates and private pay rates. All three groups also anticipated increases in overall program quality and reductions in spaces for 3-year-olds, with notably few concerns regarding decreases in spaces for other age groups. Possible Challenges to Maintaining, Expanding or Becoming NC Pre-K Programs • The most frequently cited challenges related to maintaining and expanding current NC Pre-K Programs included reimbursement rates being too low, rising operating costs, and no inflation adjustments; transportation for children not available, child attendance difficulties, and not enough eligible children to enroll; inability to locate qualified teachers, to retain qualified staff, and to provide adequate compensation; and not having enough space for additional classrooms. • For non-NC Pre-K Providers, there was less consistency among respondents in the types of challenges noted to becoming NC Pre-K Programs. More frequently cited issues included the administrative burden being too great; transportation for children not being available; inability to locate qualified teachers and to provide adequate compensation; and not enough space for additional classrooms.
  8. 8. 6 Recommendations Greater funding for the NC Pre-K Program will be needed to address many of the challenges described by survey respondents. These include rising operating costs, reimbursement rates being too low, no inflation adjustments, difficulties providing adequate staff compensation, and difficulties locating qualified teaching staff. Other challenges, such as lack of transportation for children and lack of space for additional classrooms, are significant issues that impede both expanding and becoming NC Pre-K sites, and likely will require substantial financial investments as well as shifts in current funding structures. For example, NC Pre-K funds cannot be used for transportation costs. Further, as other broader policy changes are implemented, these may have trickle-down effects, such reductions in class size for K-3 impacting the availability of space for NC Pre-K. Options for alleviating the financial impact of program requirements on Providers to enable them to become NC Pre-K sites need to be considered. For example, non-NC Pre-K Providers reported having longer hours of operation and were more likely to offer alternative care options which are outside of the NC Pre-K funded day. They also reported having lower staff salaries, were less likely to provide staff specialists, and indicated they would experience increased administrative burden – potential challenges that likely may require some adjustments for participation in NC Pre-K. Further, these differences may be amplified by disparities in the resources available to providers in public settings (particularly those within public schools) and those in private or community-based settings. Strategies need to be considered to mitigate potential cascading effects of NC Pre-K Program expansion for the programs and the families. In particular, survey respondents indicated that one of the likely impacts of becoming an NC Pre-K site or expanding their current NC Pre-K Program would be reductions in the number of available spaces for 3-year-olds. Such cascading effects have financial impacts not only on the providers in terms of fewer children potentially served, but also on the families by reducing availability. As the state seeks to expand the NC Pre-K Program, consideration could be given to working with 4- and 5-star non-NC Pre-K Providers seeking to become NC Pre-K Programs. Targeting funding in this way could result in a more incremental, effective use of state funding to expand availability as well as access. Greater support is needed for more targeted community outreach at the local level for finding eligible but unserved children, as well as greater systems-level support. All NC Pre-K Contract Administrators reported maintaining lists of eligible but unserved children, and many Contract Administrators and Providers expressed willingness to expand current programs or consider becoming NC Pre-K Programs with additional funding. However, survey respondents generally perceived that there were no or small numbers of eligible but unserved children within their communities. Yet other sources of data suggest larger unmet needs, with only about one-quarter of counties serving 75% of eligible children. In addition, greater systems-level support, such as through linked administrative data sources and interagency collaborative efforts, could facilitate other methods for finding eligible children as well as increasing awareness of the need. Further investigation is needed of broader issues within the NC early childhood landscape that may intersect with expansion of the NC Pre-K Program and the populations of eligible but unserved children. It is critical to examine the match between the needs of families and the extent to which NC Pre-K Programs can meet those needs. For example, a higher proportion of non-NC Pre-K Providers offered alternative options for care, which fall outside of NC Pre-K funded services. Further, given the general perceptions of few eligible but unserved children within the existing communities offering opportunities for NC Pre-K or other child care services, another relevant issue may include examination of the nature and existence of child care deserts across the state. Several survey respondents acknowledged the existing discrepancies between access and need for families.
  9. 9. 7 NC Pre-K Program Overview NC Pre-K is the North Carolina state-funded educational program for eligible 4-year-olds, primarily targeting children from low-income families, designed to enhance their school readiness skills. Initiated in 2001–2002, the program became statewide by 2003–2004. NC Pre-K provides funding for serving eligible children in classroom-based educational programs in a variety of setting types, including public schools, Head Start, and private child care centers (both for-profit and nonprofit). NC Pre-K classrooms may consist solely of children funded by the NC Pre-K Program or may also include children supported by other funding sources, although the vast majority (about 86% on average) are participating in the NC Pre-K Program.i The NC Pre-K Program is administered through 91 state contracts at the county or region (multi-county grouping) level with oversight by the NC Division of Child Development and Early Education (DCDEE), NC Department of Health and Human Services (NC DHHS). Local program oversight must include collaboration among the local school system(s), the local Smart Start partnership, and a variety of other key stakeholders of the early childhood community (e.g., Head Start, child care providers, resource and referral agencies, parents of preschoolers, Department of Social Services, public school Preschool Exceptional Children services, and various others). Within each of the 91 contracts, qualifying four- and five-star preschool sites are designated to offer NC Pre-K, with qualifying 4-year-old classrooms within those sites designated to serve children funded by NC Pre-K. According to program guidelines, children are eligible for NC Pre-K primarily based on age and family income. Children must be four years old by August 31 of the program year, with a gross family income at or below 75% of state median income (SMI). Within a local program, up to 20% of age-eligible children with higher family incomes may be enrolled if the child has at least one of the following additional factors: limited English proficiency, identified developmental disability, chronic health condition, or educational need (based on developmental screening or an IEP). In addition, children with a parent serving in the military are eligible regardless of family income or other eligibility factors. Programs also are encouraged to serve children in families who are experiencing homelessness. The requirements for NC Pre-K are designed to provide a high-quality, classroom-based educational experience for children, and to ensure uniformity in the program across the state, to the extent possible. The NC Pre-K Program operates on a school day and school calendar basis for 6.5 hour per day and 36 weeks per year. Program standards for local sites include meeting requirements for four- or five-star North Carolina child care licensing levels; using an approved curriculum, screening, and assessment; maximum class size of 18 and staff-to-child ratio of 1:9 (with a lead and assistant teacher); meeting education and licensure levels for staff; and provision of other program services.ii Lead teachers are required to hold or be working toward a NC Birth through Kindergarten (B-K) license or the equivalent and assistant teachers are required to hold or be working toward an Associate Degree in early childhood education or child development (ECE/CD) or a Child Development Associate (CDA) credential. Classroom activities and instruction are based on the state early learning standards and an approved curriculum; classroom staff are expected to conduct developmental screenings and ongoing assessments to gather information on individual children’s growth and skill development as well as to inform instruction. The NC Pre-K Program is funded overall by a combination of state, federal, and lottery funds. Monthly reimbursement rates to local NC Pre-K contracts vary by the type of classroom and teacher qualifications, from up to $400 per child (in Head Start sites) to a maximum of $650 (private sites with a
  10. 10. 8 B-K-licensed lead teacher), with an average annual cost per child estimated at $5,534. The state reimbursement to local NC Pre-K contracts represents 61% of the total cost of $9,126, with the remainder of the costs blended from other sources such as Smart Start, Title I, Head Start, and other local funds, to meet the required match for NC Pre-K.iii Numerous studies have been conducted since the inception of NC’s statewide pre-k program in 2001-02 to evaluate program implementation, classroom quality, and children’s outcomes (both short-term and long-term) using a variety of research methodologies. Overall, these studies have found that the NC Pre-K Program offers a generally high quality classroom experience based on various program characteristics (e.g., teacher qualifications, staff-to-child ratios, curriculum and assessment) with positive outcomes for children (language, literacy, math, executive function, social skills) from pre-k through the end of kindergarten as well as on third-grade end-of-grade reading and math scores. In addition, these effects often are even stronger for children who are dual language learners or with lower levels of language proficiency. (See Appendix for a list of previous reports for the statewide evaluation of the NC Pre-K Program.) Study Purpose Since its inception, the statewide Pre-K Program has served over 400,000 children, reaching approximately 30,000 children annually in recent years.iv Yet a recent report suggested that the program is only reaching approximately half of the eligible children in NC, with some counties serving fewer than 20% of eligible children while others are well above 75%.v A statewide study of recruitment, application, and enrollment practices in the NC Pre-K Program found some potential barriers to enrollment for existing programs, although many programs also reported attempting to address these issues.vi For example, most programs used a centralized application process which resulted in barriers for some families. They also indicated that different types of recruitment strategies worked better with different populations of families, which may restrict the ability of programs to find eligible children. On the other hand, most programs reported collaborating with other agencies around recruitment and placement, which may include placing children in other programs in addition to NC Pre-K in order to ensure that as many children as possible receive services. In recent years, NC Pre-K has received state funding to expand the program in order to serve additional children, with the eventual goal of serving 75% of all eligible children in NC. However, over the past 3 years, NC Pre-K has continued to serve approximately half of all eligible children, with the majority of counties not meeting the 75% goal.vii According to DHHS administrative records, 34%-42% (31-38) of NC Pre-K contracts representing 34-44 counties, have declined expansion funding over the past three years, although all 91 NC Pre-K contracts across all 100 counties were provided this opportunity. To enhance understanding of potential barriers to increasing enrollment among all eligible children, the NC General Assembly (Session Law 2019-87, House Bill 886, July 8, 2019) ordered a statewide study of the challenges associated with becoming NC Pre-K sites along with a study of the local challenges, in support of the goal of enrolling 75% of eligible children in every county.
  11. 11. 9 The Department of Health and Human Services, Division of Child Development and Early Education (Division), shall complete a statewide study of operators of four-and five-star centers who are not currently participating in the North Carolina Prekindergarten (NC Pre-K) program to identify those operators' perception of the challenges associated with becoming an NC Pre-K site. In addition, the Division shall complete a county-by-county study of additional local challenges. Findings from these two studies shall be used to make recommendations to address these challenges, including any recommended changes in the State funding structure, to facilitate achieving the goal of enrolling in the NC Pre-K program at least seventy-five percent (75%) of eligible children in each county. The Division shall submit a report on its recommendations regarding the challenges, as well as any recommendations for changes to support increased access for children eligible for the NC Pre-K program, to the Joint Legislative Oversight Committee on Health and Human Services and the Joint Legislative Education Oversight Committee by February 1, 2020. In order to provide the Division of Child Development and Early Education, which oversees NC Pre-K, with information to address this legislative mandate, the FPG NC Pre-K Evaluation research team undertook two related research studies focused on the challenges to maintaining and expanding current NC Pre-K Programs and the challenges to becoming NC Pre-K Programs for those not currently participating. Both studies entailed a statewide survey of all current NC Pre-K Contract Administrators and Providers and all current non-NC Pre-K Providers of licensed four- and five-star child care centers. Study 1 examined four major topics, describing responses for each of the three respondent groups (as relevant): 1) NC Pre-K funding history and other funding sources; 2) Setting characteristics relevant to NC Pre-K service provision; 3) Information on eligible but unserved children; and 4) Possible impacts of expanding current NC Pre-K Programs or becoming a new NC Pre-K Program. Study 2 provided information about a fifth topic: 5) Potential challenges to expanding and maintaining current NC Pre-K Programs or becoming a new NC Pre-K Program.
  12. 12. 10 Method Survey Respondents The survey participants included three groups: all NC Pre-K Contract Administrators, all NC Pre-K Providers, and all non-NC Pre-K Providers of other four- and five-star centers. Survey participants included 82 NC Pre-K Contract Administrators, 562 NC Pre-K Providers, and 400 non-NC Pre-K Providers. The three survey respondent groups were defined as follows: 1) NC Pre-K Contract Administrators were the authorized individuals designated by DCDEE to administer the local contract for the NC Pre-K Program during the 2019-20 school year, either within the Local Education Agency (LEA or school district), local Smart Start Partnership, or Head Start grantee (in a few cases statewide). 2) NC Pre-K Providers were the designated site administrators of four- and five-star centers for the local NC Pre-K sites within each NC Pre-K contract during the 2019-20 school year. 3) Non-NC Pre-K Providers were defined as the site administrators of four- and five-star centers that were not participating in the NC Pre-K Program during the 2019-20 school year (hereafter referred to as Non-NC Pre-K Providers). Survey participants were identified through administrative records from DCDEE. A complete list of NC Pre-K Contract Administrators was obtained from the NC Pre-K administrative database, along with the program contacts if the contract administrator was unable to complete the survey or delegated the task. For the NC Pre-K and non-NC Pre-K Providers, DCDEE provided the FPG research team with a comprehensive list of all four- and five-star providers. The research team then cross-checked this list against the NC Pre-K administrative database to confirm provider type, and utilized available data sources and worked jointly with staff from DCDEE to correct errors in participant information (especially email addresses necessary for survey distribution), remove duplicate records, and verify respondent categories. As seen in Table 1, the initial provider lists included substantial numbers of duplicate records (typically due to multi-site providers), errors in email addresses, and some providers who were no longer in business. After cleaning, these lists were refined to create the final “sent lists,” which comprised the final survey distribution pool. Surveys were sent to all individuals within the survey distribution pool, representing the complete population of NC Pre-K Contract Administrators (with program contacts as back-ups), NC Pre-K Providers, and non-NC Pre-K Providers of four-and five-star centers. Based on this pool, survey responses were obtained from 90% (82/91) of the NC Pre-K Contract Administrators, 53% (562/1055) of the NC Pre-K Providers, and 30% (400/1325) of the non-NC Pre-K Providers. Characteristics of the survey respondents and non-respondents were compared by respondent group to examine the representativeness of the final sample. (Note that a small number of individuals were excluded from these analyses due to some missing data.) As seen in Table 2, based on NC Pre-K administrative data, there were no significant differences between respondents and non-respondents among NC Pre-K Contract Administrators. About half (52%) of the NC Pre-K Contract Administrators responding to the survey represented Smart Start agencies and almost half (44%) represented school districts, with a few (4%) representing Head Start grantees. As seen in Table 3, based on DHHS child care licensing administrative data, NC Pre-K survey respondents were slightly more likely than non- respondents to have a five-star license, to be subsidy approved, and to operate as a private business,
  13. 13. 11 and less likely to operate as a public agency. As seen in Table 4, based on DHHS child care licensing administrative data, non-NC Pre-K Provider survey respondents were more likely than non-respondents to have a five-star license. There were some differences between NC Pre-K and non-NC Pre-K Providers in setting characteristics, based on DHHS child care administrative data. The majority (92%) of NC Pre-K Provider survey respondents had a five-star license, 59% were subsidy approved, about 10% met Head Start requirements, and 87% met NC Pre-K requirements. Half (50%) were categorized as a local public school system, almost one-third (30%) as independent operators, about 8% as Head Start sites, and about 5% as franchises. Slightly over half (57%) of non-NC Pre-K Provider survey respondents had a five-star license, 86% were subsidy approved, about 7% met Head Start requirements, and 3% met NC Pre-K requirements. The most frequent operation categories were community college (27%), Federal (22%), community service agency (15%), contracted provider (15%), and religious sponsored (11%). As seen in Table 5, almost two-thirds of NC Pre-K Contract Administrators (65%) and Providers (61%) reported their highest education level as a master’s degree or above. Almost half (46%) of non-NC Pre-K Providers reported their highest education level as a bachelor’s degree, with about one-fifth (21%) reporting a master’s degree or above and another one-quarter (24%) reporting an associate’s or 2-year degree. As seen in Table 6, all three respondent groups reported substantial years of experience in their current types of positions, on average. NC Pre-K Contract Administrators indicated that they had an average of about 9 years of experience as an NC Pre-K Contractor, although the range varied from less than one year to over 20 years. NC Pre-K Providers indicated that they had an average of 10 years of experience as a preschool administrator or director, although the range varied widely from 0 to 46 years. Non-NC Pre-K Providers indicated that they had slightly more experience on average, 14 years, although the range also varied widely from 0 to 49 years. Measures A set of three related surveys was developed, with parallel questions (as appropriate) for each of the three respondent groups. The surveys were developed through an iterative process by the lead researcher in conjunction with key staff at DCDEE and in consultation with representatives from SAS Institute. A common set of survey topics was included across all surveys, with modifications as needed to address the specific roles of each respondent group. Survey topics included five main areas, with the first four areas comprising Study 1 and the fifth area comprising Study 2: 1) NC Pre-K funding history and other funding sources; 2) Setting characteristics relevant to NC Pre-K service provision; 3) Information on eligible but unserved children; 4) Possible impacts of expanding current NC Pre-K Programs or becoming a new NC Pre-K Program; and 5) Potential challenges to expanding and maintaining current NC Pre-K Programs or becoming a new NC Pre-K Program. After the final survey items were determined, an electronic version was created, tested, revised, and finalized by the research team prior to distribution. Survey items were designed using multiple-choice type formats, with either “select one” or “select all that apply” response options as appropriate. For some date and time related questions, drop-down or calendar formats were utilized as appropriate. For selected items, an “other” option was offered, with a text box to specify the response. In these cases, responses were reviewed, coded, and summarized as relevant in the results.
  14. 14. 12 Procedures Surveys were distributed to participants electronically via email. They received a brief letter explaining the purpose of the study from the research team, with a unique link to the survey. In addition, information about the survey was shared by DCDEE representatives at various meetings with participant groups to encourage participation. Surveys were distributed over a 2-week period in late fall 2019, with three periodic reminder emails sent to participants who had not yet completed their survey. Respondents received an email thanking them for their participation upon completion. Throughout this process, the research team worked to correct errors in email addresses and address questions from respondents regarding survey content or technical difficulties in order to maximize the response rate. Survey data were processed by the FPG research team to enable data analysis. The research team assigned unique IDs to each participant for confidential data management purposes. Survey data were cleaned and verified, including checking for survey completion and usability, analyzing item validity, conducting range and error checks, and coding and summarizing text-based responses. All valid data were included in the survey analyses, allowing for missing items that did not compromise the integrity of the survey responses. Analysis Approach The primary analyses involved summarizing the responses to survey items by category and respondent type. The frequencies and percentages of responses to categorical questions were computed, and the sample size, mean, standard deviation, and range were computed for responses to continuous items. In order to examine the representativeness of the sample, the characteristics of the respondents and non- respondents were compared using Chi-squares. Information for these analyses was based on administrative data provided by DCDEE, including lists of all NC Pre-K Contract Administrators, NC Pre-K Providers, and non-NC Pre-K Providers of four- and five-star centers. The lists provided were examined to eliminate providers who were no longer in business and duplicate entries prior to conducting these analyses. Administrative data providing sample characteristics and other program information included NC Pre-K administrative data for the NC Pre-K Contract Administrators and DHHS child care licensing information for the NC Pre-K Providers and non-NC Pre-K providers.
  15. 15. 13 Results Study 1 – Statewide Challenges to Becoming, Expanding, & Maintaining NC Pre-K Programs Descriptive results for the survey questions for Study 1 are provided by the three respondent types (as applicable) – NC Pre-K Contract Administrators, NC Pre-K Providers, and non-NC Pre-K Providers. The results are organized according to four major categories of information: 1) NC Pre-K funding history and other funding sources 2) Setting characteristics relevant to NC Pre-K service provision 3) Information on eligible but unserved children 4) Possible impacts of expanding and maintaining current NC Pre-K Programs or becoming a new NC Pre-K Program NC Pre-K Funding History and Other Funding Sources Overall, survey results related to funding history and sources indicate that although most NC Pre-K Contract Administrators have accepted expansion funds within the past three years, most NC Pre-K Providers did not accept funding for additional slots. In addition to NC Pre-K funds, NC Pre-K Contract Administrators and Providers utilize a wide range of other funding sources for children. Non-NC Pre-K Providers, in contrast, primarily rely on child care subsidy and parent fees. Further details about the specific survey results are described below. Expansion Funds / Additional Slots NC Pre-K Contract Administrators and Providers were asked whether they had accepted expansion funds (Contract Administrators) or additional slots (Providers) within the past three years, as seen in Table 7. Approximately one-quarter (27%) of NC Pre-K Contract Administrator survey respondents did not accept expansion funds during the past three years, with a higher percentage accepting funds in the current year (2019-20) than in the previous two years (2018-19 and 2017-18). Approximately two-thirds (65%) of NC Pre-K Contract Administrators accepted expansion funds this year (2019-20), compared to about 40% during the preceding two years (2018-19 and 2017-18). In contrast, almost two-thirds (63%) of NC Pre-K Providers did not accept additional slots during the past three years, with a higher percentage accepting slots in the current year (24%) compared to previous years (11%-16%). In comparison, administrative records from DCDEE indicated that overall, more than one-third of NC Pre-K contracts declined expansion funds during each of the past three years. Specifically, 38 (42%) NC Pre-K Contract Administrators (representing 44 counties) declined expansion funds in 2017-18; 32 (35%) NC Pre-K Contract Administrators (representing 34 counties) declined in 2018-19; and 31 (34%) NC Pre-K Contract Administrators (representing 34 counties) declined in 2019-20. Types of Funding for Children All three respondent groups were asked to indicate the types of funding they receive for their site or the sites in their program (in the case of Contract Administrators). Blended funding sources were commonly reported by NC Pre-K Programs at both the contract and provider level, as well by non-NC Pre-K Programs as a method to cover the full cost of care. As seen in Table 8, these patterns were very different by respondent type, however. In addition to NC Pre-K funds, NC Pre-K Contract Administrators
  16. 16. 14 reported wide use of other funding sources for children to meet the full cost not covered by state funding (approximately 40% in remaining costs). The most frequently utilized funding sources were Title I, Preschool Exceptional Child, Head Start, and Smart Start, reported by approximately half (48%-59%) of NC Pre-K Contract Administrators. However, other sources were used by a substantial number, with about 40% utilizing child care subsidy; about one-third (34%) utilizing parent fees; and about one- quarter (27%) utilizing private parent pay only fees. In contrast, in addition to NC Pre-K funds, NC Pre-K Providers most frequently relied on state child care subsidy reimbursements or parent fees (45%) to cover their operating costs. Further, just under one-quarter (23%) received Title I or Smart Start funds, while other types of funding were used by smaller percentages. For non-NC Pre-K Providers, the primary funding types were child care subsidy funds (81%) and parent fees (69%). In addition, around one-quarter (23%-28%) of non-NC Pre-K Providers reported using Smart Start and private parent pay only fees, while other types of funding were used by smaller percentages. Setting Information Overall, information on the setting characteristics of both NC Pre-K and other four- and five-star non-NC Pre-K Programs reveals some similarities and differences. Considering that NC Pre-K Programs are located within other existing settings, including public pre-k, private child care, and Head Start, this is to be expected. Notably, few of the non-NC Pre-K Providers had previously participated as NC Pre-K sites, although a slightly higher percentage had ever applied. There is substantial variability in the size of both NC Pre-K and non-NC Pre-K Programs. The majority of 4-year-olds served by NC Pre-K Providers are in NC Pre-K classrooms. Most providers report serving a variety of age groups in addition to 4-year-olds, with both NC Pre-K and non-NC Pre-K Providers more likely to serve children in single-age classrooms (including 4-year-old only classrooms) than in mixed-age classrooms. Almost all providers are open for at least 6.5 hours (or more) per day, which is consistent with the school-day schedule of the NC Pre-K Program. Non-NC Pre-K Providers are more likely to have longer hours of operation, with about 90% reporting typical operating hours of 50-60 hours per week or more, compared to just under half (47%) for NC Pre-K Providers. Similarly, alternative schedule options for care (such as full-time care, summer program, partial day, partial week, drop-in care) were more likely to be offered by non-NC Pre-K Providers than NC Pre-K Providers. In contrast, staff specialists were more likely to be offered in NC Pre-K Programs than non-NC Pre-K Programs, with fewer differences for external specialists. On average, typical staff salaries were higher in NC Pre-K Programs than non-NC Pre-K Programs, particularly for lead teachers with a teaching license. These differences in program operations potentially have financial implications for non-NC Pre-K Providers if they were to become NC Pre-K Programs, as they would need to determine how to adjust their operations in accord with the NC Pre-K Program guidelines where needed. In addition, these differences may be further amplified by disparities in the resources available to providers in public settings (particularly those within public schools) and those in private or community-based settings. For example, teacher salaries are likely to be higher in public preschool settings because Pre-K teachers are being paid on parity with K-12 teachers. Some resources, such as staff specialists or buses for transportation, may be more readily available within public school settings, but may or may not be available to the Pre-K program depending on restrictions around funding use as well as resource availability. For example, the current NC Pre-K funding structure does not allow state funds to be used to pay for transportation costs. Decisions around other resources within public school settings, such as
  17. 17. 15 classroom space for Pre-K, are made within the context of the broader K-12 program. As various policy changes are implemented within these settings, such as reductions in class size for K-3, these may have trickle-down effects on the availability of space for NC Pre-K. Further details about the specific survey results are described below. Previous Participation in NC Pre-K Non-NC Pre-K Providers were asked to indicate whether their center had ever applied to, been selected for, or participated in the NC Pre-K Program, as seen in Table 9. About 20% of non-NC Pre-K providers indicated that they had ever applied to become NC Pre-K sites, and of these, 43% indicated that they were ever selected. Approximately half of these had participated during the earliest four years of NC Pre-K (2011-12 to 2014-15), with about one-quarter to one-third participating in the next four years (2015-16 to 2018-2019). Contract Size As seen in Table 10, NC Pre-K Contract Administrators were asked to provide information about the size of their NC Pre-K contract, including number of sites, classrooms, children, lead teachers, and assistant teachers by age groupings (4-year-olds or preschool mixed-age groupings). NC Pre-K Contract Administrators reported an average of 12 sites per contract, but the range varied up to 102. Overall, NC Pre-K contracts reported serving an average of 231 NC Pre-K children in 71 classrooms, with about 25 lead teachers and 23 assistant teachers. Most Contract Administrators reported that NC Pre-K children were in 4-year-old only settings, with 262 children per contract in 12 sites and 22 classrooms with 22 lead teachers and 23 assistant teachers, on average. Fewer Contract Administrators (about 38%) reported that NC Pre-K children were in mixed age groupings, with about 1 site, 136 classrooms, 10 NC Pre-K children, and 15 lead teachers per contract, on average. (The average number of classrooms and teachers were higher than the average number of children because of a few sites with especially large numbers of mixed-age classrooms.) Note that all children in a given NC Pre-K classroom may not be NC Pre-K children (and only the 4-year-old group is eligible in mixed-age classrooms). Program Size Both NC Pre-K and non-NC Pre-K Providers were asked to provide information about the size of their programs, including number of classrooms, children, lead teachers, and assistant teachers by age groupings, as seen in Table 11. The majority of NC Pre-K Providers reported serving NC Pre-K children in 4-year-old only classrooms, compared to those reporting serving them in preschool mixed-age classrooms. In addition, NC Pre-K Providers reported more 4-year-old only classrooms serving NC Pre-K children than not serving NC Pre-K children (average of 1.9 vs 0.6, respectively). The majority of NC Pre- K Providers also reported serving other age groups from infants through 3-year-olds, with an average of about one classroom per age group per provider, although the ranges varied. Many fewer NC Pre-K Providers reported serving older school-age children or children in mixed-age groupings. There were similar numbers or slightly more lead and assistant teachers than classrooms, on average, for all age groups. The one exception was school-age for those who offered before- or after-school care, with large numbers of children (average of 93) reported, but fewer groupings and higher numbers of teaching staff. Most non-NC Pre-K Providers also reported that they served all age groups, from infants through 4-year- olds. Non-NC Pre-K Providers reported about one classroom per age group on average, although the
  18. 18. 16 ranges also varied. However, the relative number of children served tended to increase with age, on average, from infants through 4-year-olds. Similarly to NC Pre-K Providers, smaller numbers reported serving older school-age children or children in mixed-age groupings. There also were similar numbers or slightly more lead and assistant teachers than classrooms, on average, for all age groups. Operating Hours Both NC Pre-K and non-NC Pre-K Providers were asked to provide information about the operating hours of their programs, as seen in Table 12 and Table 13. Compared to NC Pre-K Providers, non-NC Pre-K Providers were open for more hours per day (9.3 vs 11.2) and per week (46.6 vs 56.9), on average. Almost all of both types of providers (more than 92%) reported being open for at least 6.5 hours (or more) per day, which is consistent with the school-day schedule of the NC Pre-K Program. Few providers reported typical weekday operating hours below 32.5 hours per week, a total which is consistent with the school-day schedule of the NC Pre-K Program. Just under half (45%) of NC Pre-K Providers reported between 35-45 hours per week, with a similar proportion (44%) reporting between 50-60 hours per week. In contrast, the majority (81%) of non-NC Pre-K Providers reported typical operating hours between 50-60 hours per week. Another 9% of non-NC Pre-K Providers reported greater than 60 hours per week, compared to only 3% of NC Pre-K Providers. Schedule Options Both NC Pre-K and non-NC Pre-K Providers were asked to indicate which types of schedule options they offered at their site, as seen in Table 14. All of these alternative schedule options were offered more frequently in non-NC Pre-K sites. The majority of both NC Pre-K and non-NC Pre-K Providers offered full- time care (64% and 88%, respectively). Partial-day, partial-week, and drop-in care were each offered by a substantial proportion of non-NC Pre-K Providers (21%-34%) compared to a relatively lower proportion of NC Pre-K Providers (12%-17%). Other options, including flexible hours, overnight care, and being open 24 hours were offered by small proportions in both groups. Almost one-third (32%) of NC Pre-K Providers indicated that none of these options were offered, compared to only 10% of non-NC Pre-K Providers. When asked about different shift options for care, over 99% of providers in both groups indicated that their sites offer first shift care. Few indicated that they offered other shift care options, with slightly higher proportions of non-NC Pre-K Providers compared to NC Pre-K Providers indicating that they offered second shift (11% vs 3%) or third shift care (2% vs less than 1%). Program Services Both NC Pre-K and non-NC Pre-K Providers were asked to indicate which types of program services they provided at their site, as seen in Table 15. Half (50%) of NC Pre-K Providers offered transportation compared to about one-quarter (24%) of non-NC Pre-K Providers. In contrast, just over half (58%) of non-NC Pre-K Providers offered summer programs compared to just over one-third (38%) of NC Pre-K Providers. Relatively small proportions of providers offered dual language programs, with the most common option being Spanish language programs (12%-16%). Staff specialists, including physical therapists (PT), occupational therapists (OT), and speech language therapists, were much more commonly provided in NC Pre-K Programs (20%-31%) than in non-NC Pre-K Programs (3%-5%). Almost two-thirds (65%) of both types of providers had external speech language therapists, while services provided by external PT and OT specialists were slightly higher for NC Pre-K Programs (57%-60%) than
  19. 19. 17 for non-NC Pre-K Programs (49%-53%). When noted by survey respondents, other types of services reported included behavior/emotional specialists, vision/hearing/dental, mental health, and exceptional children’s services. Staff Wages Both NC Pre-K and non-NC Pre-K Providers were asked to indicate typical staff salaries (wages only) based on early childhood licensure and credentials, as seen in Table 16. (Reported information was converted to annualized salaries, excluding all values of zero, as indicated in the table.) For lead teachers who have a Birth-Kindergarten (B-K) teaching license, the average typical annual salary was about $10,000 higher in NC Pre-K Programs, nearly $41,000 ($40,940), compared to under $31,000 ($30,651) in non-NC Pre-K Programs. Average typical salaries for NC Pre-K lead teachers with a non- early childhood teaching license were somewhat higher than those for similarly qualified non-NC Pre-K teachers ($31,054 vs 26,556), and were similar to those for licensed teachers in the non-NC Pre-K Programs. For all other groups, including lead teachers without a teaching license and assistant teachers with and without an early childhood credential, average salaries were slightly higher in NC Pre-K Programs, but the differences were smaller. Eligible But Unserved Children Based on the survey results, NC Pre-K Contract Administrators indicate that they are maintaining lists of eligible but unserved children, but also generally believe that there are relatively small numbers of such children remaining within their communities. Thus, there may be some discrepancies between these perceptions and other sources of data suggesting much larger unmet needs. A recent report estimated that approximately half the eligible population of 4-year-olds was not currently being served in NC Pre- K, with about one-quarter of counties serving over 75% of eligible children and 40% of counties serving below 50% of eligible children.viii All NC Pre-K Contract Administrators surveyed indicated that they maintained a list of eligible children waiting to be enrolled, with the vast majority maintaining this list at the contract level. When asked to estimate the number of eligible but unserved children in their communities, NC Pre-K Contract Administrators reported an average of about 210 children. However, almost one-third indicated that there were no other eligible children in their communities, about another one-third estimated that there were only 10-75 eligible children, and the remaining one-third ranged widely from 100-3,500. NC Pre-K Contract Administrators reported frequently engaging in community outreach to find eligible families or help them understand more about NC Pre-K, with almost half engaging in such activities 6 or more times per year. NC Pre-K Providers also engaged in community outreach, although somewhat less frequently than Contract Administrators. Further details about the specific survey results are described below. Level of NC Pre-K Contract Information on Eligible Children Waiting to Be Enrolled NC Pre-K Contract Administrators were asked to indicate at what level(s) they keep a list of eligible children waiting to be enrolled if there is an opening in their NC Pre-K Program, as seen in Table 17. The vast majority (88%) indicated that they maintain this list at the contract level. About one-quarter (25%) indicated that they maintain lists at the site level, and a small number (8%) indicated the grantee level (8%). A few (1%) indicated other responses, such as on a database for all sites to review. Notably, no NC Pre-K Contract Administrators indicated they do not maintain a list at all.
  20. 20. 18 Approximate Number of Eligible Children Waiting for NC Pre-K As the individuals with primary responsibility for recruitment and enrollment of children and families into the NC Pre-K Program, NC Pre-K Contract Administrators were asked to provide estimates of the number of eligible waiting for NC Pre-K and within their communities who have not applied. NC Pre-K Contract Administrators provided survey responses about the approximate number of children waiting for an opening in the NC Pre-K Program last year (2018-19) and this year (2019-20), as seen in Table 18. In general, the numbers so far for the current year are similar to last year with regard to the average number. Approximately 140 children were on the list at the beginning of the year, with about another 10% on average added throughout the year. The majority of these children were placed in NC Pre-K during the year, with few declining slots. However, as seen in Table 19, Table 20, Table 21, Table 22, Table 23,Table 24, Table 25, and Table 26, the ranges vary greatly across all of these categories, including some Contract Administrators reporting values of zero, while others report nearly 2,000 children on the initial lists. In addition, NC Pre-K Contract Administrators provided survey responses estimating the approximate number of eligible but unserved children in their communities who have not applied to NC Pre-K, as shown in Table 18. The average estimate was about 210 children, with a range from 0 to 3,500. However, as seen in Table 27, almost one-third (32%) of these estimates indicated that there were no other eligible children in their communities; about another one-third (36%) estimated that there were 10-75 eligible children; 15% estimated between 100-300 children; about 9% estimated 400-700; and the remaining 9% estimated between 1,000-3,500. It is important to note that these estimates represent NC Pre-K Contract Administrators’ perceptions of the number of eligible but unserved children in their communities, rather than specific counts. Frequency of Community Outreach to NC Pre-K Eligible Families Both NC Pre-K Contract Administrators and Providers were asked to indicate how often they engage in outreach to the community to try to find families of children who are eligible for NC Pre-K but have not applied or to help them understand more about the NC Pre-K Program. As seen in Table 28, NC Pre-K Contract Administrators reported engaging in community outreach on a more frequent basis than Providers. Almost half (45%) of NC Pre-K Contract Administrators engaged in such outreach activities more than 6 times per year compared to about one-quarter (27%) of NC Pre-K Providers. For those in the middle range, the numbers were similar for both groups for 5-6 times per year (15% vs 13%) or 3-4 times per year (27% vs 29%). However, the frequency of reported outreach was higher for NC Pre-K Providers than NC Pre-K Contract Administrators at the lower end. NC Pre-K Contract Administrators were less likely to report engaging in community outreach only 1-2 times per year compared to NC Pre-K Providers (13% vs 25%). No (0%) NC Pre-K Contract Administrators reported that they rarely/never engaged in community outreach, compared to a few (7%) NC Pre-K Providers. Possible Impacts of Expanding or Becoming NC Pre-K Programs Results related to possible impacts of expanding or becoming NC Pre-K Programs indicated that across all three respondent groups, the majority recognize the need and impact, and would be willing to add some additional children and classrooms if funding were available. However, a substantial proportion indicated that no further additions were possible. When asked about the options for potential expansion of their NC Pre-K Programs, a slight majority of NC Pre-K Contract Administrators and
  21. 21. 19 Providers indicated that they could increase the number of classrooms and children with additional funding, typically the equivalent of one to two full classrooms or fewer (i.e., a partial classroom). However, equally notable, about 30%-40% indicated that they could not add any additional children or classrooms at all. When non-NC Pre-K Providers were asked about the options for enrolling additional children if they were to become NC Pre-K Programs, about two-thirds indicated that they could enroll children in existing classrooms and about half in new classrooms, generally the equivalent of one full classroom or fewer (i.e., a partial classroom). Conversely, about one-third indicated that they could not enroll any additional children in existing classrooms and about half indicated this for new classrooms. As the state seeks to expand the NC Pre-K Program, consideration could be given to working with 4- and 5-star non-NC Pre-K Providers seeking to become NC Pre-K Programs. Targeting funding in this way could result in a more incremental, effective use of state funding to expand availability as well as access. Across all three respondent groups, some positive overall impacts of expanding or becoming NC Pre-K Programs were acknowledged, as well as some realistic impacts on operations. The largest potential impact related to expanding or becoming NC Pre-K Programs anticipated by NC Pre-K Contract Administrators and Providers was an overall increase in the number of classrooms. In contrast, non-NC Pre-K Providers were more likely to anticipate financial impacts, including increases in teacher compensation rates and increases in private pay rates. All three groups somewhat frequently anticipated increases in overall program quality and reductions in spaces for 3-year-olds. Notably, there were fewer concerns regarding decreases in spaces for other age groups. Further details about the specific survey results are described below. Options for Potential Expansion of Existing NC Pre-K Programs with Additional Funding NC Pre-K Contract Administrators and Providers were asked to indicate approximately how many children and classrooms they could add if additional funding were available, as seen in Table 29. NC Pre- K Contract Administrators indicated that they could add approximately 20 more children and about 2 classrooms, on average, across the sites within their NC Pre-K contract. NC Pre-K Providers indicated that could add approximately 14 more children and about 1 more classroom, on average. However, these numbers varied widely, from 0-100 children and 0-36 classrooms for NC Pre-K Contract Administrators and from 0-108 children and 0-18 classrooms for NC Pre-K Providers. As seen in Table 30, Table 31, Table 32, and Table 33, a substantial proportion in both groups reported that even with additional funding they would not be able add any additional classrooms (Contract Administrators=41%; Providers=38%) or serve any additional children (Contract Administrators=38%; Providers=31%). With regard to additional classrooms, 21% of NC Pre-K Contract Administrators who responded indicated that they could add one additional classroom, 15% could add two classrooms, 22% could add 3-5 classrooms, and 1% indicated they could add 36 classrooms. Of NC Pre-K Providers who responded, almost half (48%) could add one additional classroom, 9% could add two classrooms, and 4% could more than two classrooms (from 3-18). These numbers are aligned with the numbers of additional children indicated, given that 18 is the maximum allowable class size based on the NC Pre-K Program guidelines. About one-quarter (26%) of NC Pre-K Contract Administrators indicated that they could add from 1-18 children (up to one classroom), another one-quarter (22%) indicated they could add from 20-36 children (up to two classrooms), and only 14% could add larger numbers from 50-100 children. About 30% of NC Pre-K Providers indicated that they could add 1-17 children (below the maximum for one full classroom), another 26% indicated that they could add 18 children (equivalent to
  22. 22. 20 one full classroom), 9% indicated they could add 20-36 children (up to two classrooms), and only 5% indicated that they could add more than 36 children (more than the equivalent of two full classrooms). Options for Potential Additions to non-NC Pre-K Programs with NC Pre-K Funding Non-NC Pre-K Providers were asked to indicate the approximate numbers of children they could enroll in existing and new classrooms if they became NC Pre-K sites, as seen in Table 34. On average, non-NC Pre-K Providers indicated that they could add approximately 16 additional children if they were to become an NC Pre-K site, with slightly over half (9 children) in existing classrooms (1 on average) and slightly under half (7 children) in new classrooms (1 on average). However, as seen in Table 35, Table 36, Table 37, Table 38, and Table 39, a substantial proportion who responded indicated that they would not be able to enroll any children in existing classrooms (33%) or new classrooms (54%). About half (52%) of those who responded indicated that they could enroll from 1-18 additional children in existing classrooms (1-9 children=28%; 10-18 children=24%), and only 15% indicated they could enroll more than 18, with varying numbers up to 51 (and one indicating 99 children). For new classrooms, slightly over one-third (35%) indicated they could enroll from 2-18 children (2-9 children=14%; 10-18 children=21%), and most of the remaining 11% indicated they could enroll varying numbers up to 54 children (and one indicating 85 children). Possible Overall Impacts of Expanding or Becoming NC Pre-K Programs NC Pre-K Contract Administrators and Providers were asked to indicate possible overall impacts of accepting expansion funds or adding slots to their program (including on non-NC Pre-K classrooms). In addition, non-NC Pre-K Providers were asked to indicate possible overall impacts on their programs of becoming NC Pre-K sites (including on non-NC Pre-K classrooms). As seen in Table 40, the pattern of anticipated impacts was similar across all three groups with a few exceptions. The largest impact anticipated by NC Pre-K Contract Administrators (42%) and NC Pre-K Providers (37%) was an overall increase in the number of classrooms, whereas this was a less frequent response for non-NC Pre-K Providers (28%). In contrast, non-NC Pre-K Providers were more likely to anticipate financial impacts, including increases in teacher compensation rates (52%) and increases in private pay rates (18%) compared to NC Pre-K Contract Administrators (29%, 13%) and NC Pre-K Providers (26%, 4%). Other frequently indicated responses by all three groups were increases in overall program quality (22%-33%) and reductions in spaces for 3-year-olds (13%-17%). Other age groups were less frequently viewed as being impacted (3%-11%). Other responses (4%-10%) included increases in the number or type of children served, various challenges (finding qualified staff, space, program focus), or reasons for disinterest in becoming an NC Pre-K Program. A higher proportion of NC Pre-K Providers (31%) anticipated no change overall, compared to NC Pre-K Contract Administrators (18%) or non-NC Pre-K Providers (21%).
  23. 23. 21 Study 2 – Local Challenges to Becoming, Expanding, & Maintaining NC Pre-K Programs Study 2 entailed a series of questions related to possible challenges to participating in the NC Pre-K Program across four major topic areas: 1) Administrative and funding issues, 2) Serving children and families, 3) Staffing issues, and 4) Facilities and programming requirements. Descriptive results are provided for the overall sample by the three respondent types (NC Pre-K Contract Administrators, NC Pre-K Providers, and non-NC Pre-K Providers) and at the NC Pre-K contract level by NC Pre-K respondents (across Contract Administrators and Providers) and non-NC Pre-K respondents. Overall Sample – Possible Challenges to Maintaining, Expanding or Becoming NC Pre-K NC Pre-K Contract Administrators and Providers were asked to select all possible challenges to maintaining and to expanding their current NC Pre-K Program, along with options to indicate other challenges or no challenges. Non-NC Pre-K Providers were asked to respond to the same list of possible challenges with regard to becoming NC Pre-K Programs. Results for each of the three respondent groups for the overall sample are shown in Table 41. In general, most potential issues were viewed as challenges by fewer than half of the respondents. NC Pre-K Contract Administrators more often viewed these issues as challenges compared to the other two groups, likely due to their larger oversight role as administrators for the NC Pre-K Program. The most frequently cited challenges related to maintaining and expanding current NC Pre-K Programs included reimbursement rates being too low, rising operating costs, and no inflation adjustments; transportation for children not available, child attendance difficulties, and not enough eligible children to enroll; inability to locate qualified teachers, to retain qualified staff, and to provide adequate compensation; and not having enough space for additional classrooms. For non-NC Pre-K Providers, there was less consistency among respondents in the types of challenges noted to becoming NC Pre-K Programs. More frequently cited issues included the administrative burden being too great, transportation for children not being available, inability to locate qualified teachers and to provide adequate compensation, and not enough space for additional classrooms. Further details about the specific survey results are described below. Administrative and Funding Issues Most of the administrative and funding issues were viewed as challenges for most NC Pre-K Contract Administrators, with the exception of blending funding. Each of these issues was generally less often viewed as a challenge by NC Pre-K Providers and non-NC Pre-K Providers. Low reimbursement rates and rising operating costs were most often cited as challenges to maintaining and expanding NC Pre-K Programs. However, these were indicated by a majority of NC Pre-K Contract Administrators (69%-75%) and were less frequently indicated by NC Pre-K Providers (30%-44%). In contrast, for non-NC Pre-K Providers, the most frequent challenge to becoming an NC Pre-K Program was related to the administrative burden (32%), with rising operating costs (28%) and low reimbursement rates (23%) being the next most frequently cited challenges. Serving Children and Families In general, NC Pre-K Contract Administrators more frequently reported challenges with serving children and families than did either of the other two respondent groups. The most commonly cited challenge with regard to serving children and families by all three respondent groups was the lack of
  24. 24. 22 transportation. Over half of NC Pre-K Contract Administrators (52%-59%) saw this as an issue for both maintaining and expanding their program, whereas this was true for around one-quarter of NC Pre-K Providers (22%-29%) and about one-third (36%) of non-NC Pre-K Providers for becoming an NC Pre-K Program. Both NC Pre-K Contract Administrators (38%) and Providers (22%) viewed child attendance as a challenge to maintaining their programs. All three groups frequently cited lack of enough eligible children to enroll as a challenge (NC Pre-K Contract Administrators=33%-41%; NC Pre-K Providers=21%; non-NC Pre-K Providers=23%). Staffing Issues Overall, most of the staffing issues were viewed as challenges for about one-quarter to half of the respondents. The inability to locate qualified teachers was frequently indicated by all groups, and was the most common staffing issue (NC Pre-K Contract Administrators=54%-56%; NC Pre-K Providers=38%- 40%; non-NC Pre-K Providers=47%). Being unable to provide adequate compensation for qualified teachers also was a challenge for respondents in all groups (NC Pre-K Contract Administrators=45%-49%; NC Pre-K Providers=27%-34%; non-NC Pre-K Providers=40%). In addition, the inability to retain qualified teaching staff also was a frequently cited challenge for NC Pre-K Contract Administrators, both for maintaining (53%) and expanding (41%). Facilities and Programming Requirements The most frequently cited issue with regard to facilities and programming requirements by all respondent groups was not having enough space for additional classrooms. This was particularly an issue with regard to both expanding current NC Pre-K Programs (NC Pre-K Contract Administrators=59%; NC Pre-K Providers=42%) and to becoming an NC Pre-K Program (non-NC Pre-K Providers=38%). Other issues were less often indicated by all three groups. Other Issues Some NC Pre-K Contract Administrators and Providers noted other challenges around maintaining and expanding their NC Pre-K Programs. Responses not included in the given survey categories included specific needs for or impacts of funding (e.g., not receiving payments in a timely manner, sufficient funds not available for specific needs); administrative burden for teachers (e.g., difficulties with navigating the Early Educator Licensing Support and Professional Development (EELSPD) process for teacher licensing; paperwork requirements interfere with teaching time; minimum training time given on paperwork requirements); matching access and needs (e.g., need more high quality programs in areas of high need, families need help with care during work hours, difficulty of program schedule/location for families with other children); staffing issues (e.g., difficult to find qualified substitute teachers, need staff support for dealing with students with challenging behaviors); public/private or within-setting inconsistencies (e.g., inconsistencies in teacher salaries and benefits between public & private, inconsistencies in what each class is paid but the requirements are the same); and competition within the preschool arena (e.g., losing enrolled NC Pre-K children to school system, other daycares are expanding their programs also, new centers given children/new classrooms but taken from established programs). Some non-NC Pre-K Providers noted other challenges around becoming an NC Pre-K Program. Responses not included in the given survey categories related to difficulties with administrative processes (e.g., biases in the selection process for NC Pre-K sites, need guidance to apply); funding
  25. 25. 23 issues (e.g., applied but no funding available); program requirements or guidelines (e.g., meal requirements, not open for full school year, use a faith-based curriculum, employee-based pre-k); and no pre-k program offered at their site. Few respondents in any category indicated that there were no applicable challenges to maintaining, expanding, or becoming an NC Pre-K Program. NC Pre-K County Level – Possible Challenges to Maintaining, Expanding or Becoming NC Pre-K Programs In order to provide county-level information about possible challenges to maintaining, expanding, or becoming NC Pre-K Programs, the frequency of responses for each NC Pre-K contract by NC Pre-K respondents as a group (Contract Administrators and Providers) and non-NC Pre-K respondents was summarized. (Note that because information on both NC Pre-K contracts and programs is included, information had to be summarized at the level of NC Pre-K contracts rather than NC counties. In addition, responses were combined across NC Pre-K Contract Administrators and Providers to protect confidentiality.) Table 42 presents the frequency of responses for each county (NC Pre-K contract), including separate information for each set of questions about the challenges to maintaining, expanding, and becoming NC Pre-K Programs. The challenges are organized across four major topic areas within the table: 1) Administrative and funding issues, 2) Serving children and families, 3) Staffing issues, and 4) Facilities and programming requirements. Because of the small number of respondents within most counties, results could not be further analyzed separately for each county. Given these small sample sizes, this information may not provide a full representation of the population challenges at the county or contract level, and therefore, conclusions could not be drawn at the county level. However, some more commonly cited challenges across the individual counties are described and may provide useful information to consider for future directions. There were some challenges for both maintaining and expanding NC Pre-K Programs that were frequently noted across individual counties. The four most frequently cited challenges for maintaining NC Pre-K Programs, indicated by more than half the counties, were related to funding issues (rising operating costs and reimbursement rates being too low) and staffing issues (inability to provide adequate compensation for qualified teachers and inability to locate qualified teachers). Other challenges for maintaining NC Pre-K Programs noted by more than half the counties included not enough space for additional classrooms, no inflation adjustments, and inability to locate qualified teacher assistants. With regard to expanding NC Pre-K Programs, several challenges were commonly noted across the various counties. The three most commonly cited challenges for expanding NC Pre-K Programs, indicated by more than three-quarters of the counties, were related to space and funding – not enough space for additional classrooms, rising operating costs, and reimbursement rates being too low. Other challenges for maintaining NC Pre-K, cited by more than half the counties, included issues related to serving children and families (not aware of enough eligible but unserved children to enroll, transportation not available, lack of family awareness of the program); staffing issues (inability to locate qualified teachers, inability to provide adequate compensation for qualified teachers, inability to locate
  26. 26. 24 qualified teacher assistants, and inability to retain qualified teaching staff); and administrative/funding issues (no inflation adjustments, administrative burden is too great). For non-NC Pre-K Programs, there were some common challenges noted for potentially becoming NC Pre-K Programs. However, there was less consistency in these responses across counties compared to challenges around expanding and maintaining existing NC Pre-K Programs (although it should be noted that the total sample size for non-NC Pre-K respondents was smaller than for NC Pre-K respondents). The three most frequently cited challenges for becoming NC Pre-K Programs, indicated by over half the counties, were related to staffing issues (inability to provide adequate compensation for qualified teachers and inability to locate qualified teachers) and funding (rising operating costs). A variety of other challenges were noted by nearly half the counties, including administrative burden is too great, not enough space for additional classrooms, transportation not available, inability to retain qualified teaching staff, and inability to locate qualified teacher assistants. Overall, there are some common challenges faced by NC Pre-K Contract Administrators and Providers in many counties (half or more) with regard to maintaining and expanding existing NC Pre-K Programs. There also are some common challenges reported by non-NC Pre-K Providers in many counties (half or nearly half) around potentially becoming an NC Pre-K Program. Various challenges were noted across the different areas, with some similarities and some differences. Across counties, three challenges particularly stand out – rising operating costs, inability to provide adequate compensation for qualified teachers, and inability to locate qualified teachers. These three issues were among the most frequently cited challenges for all three areas of maintaining, expanding, and becoming NC Pre-K Programs. Further information on individual county responses is provided in Table 42.
  27. 27. 25 Recommendations Greater funding for the NC Pre-K Program will be needed to address many of the challenges described by survey respondents. These include rising operating costs, reimbursement rates being too low, no inflation adjustments, difficulties providing adequate staff compensation, and difficulties locating qualified teaching staff. Other challenges, such as lack of transportation for children and lack of space for additional classrooms, are significant issues that impede both expanding and becoming NC Pre-K sites, and likely will require substantial financial investments as well as shifts in current funding structures. For example, NC Pre-K funds cannot be used for transportation costs. Further, as other broader policy changes are implemented, these may have trickle-down effects, such reductions in class size for K-3 impacting the availability of space for NC Pre-K. Options for alleviating the financial impact of program requirements on Providers to enable them to become NC Pre-K sites need to be considered. For example, non-NC Pre-K Providers reported having longer hours of operation and were more likely to offer alternative care options which are outside of the NC Pre-K funded day. They also reported having lower staff salaries, were less likely to provide staff specialists, and indicated they would experience increased administrative burden – potential challenges that likely may require some adjustments for participation in NC Pre-K. Further, these differences may be amplified by disparities in the resources available to providers in public settings (particularly those within public schools) and those in private or community-based settings. Strategies need to be considered to mitigate potential cascading effects of NC Pre-K Program expansion for the programs and the families. In particular, survey respondents indicated that one of the likely impacts of becoming an NC Pre-K site or expanding their current NC Pre-K Program would be reductions in the number of available spaces for 3-year-olds. Such cascading effects have financial impacts not only on the providers in terms of fewer children potentially served, but also on the families by reducing availability. As the state seeks to expand the NC Pre-K Program, consideration could be given to working with 4- and 5-star non-NC Pre-K Providers seeking to become NC Pre-K Programs. Targeting funding in this way could result in a more incremental, effective use of state funding to expand availability as well as access. Greater support is needed for more targeted community outreach at the local level for finding eligible but unserved children, as well as greater systems-level support. All NC Pre-K Contract Administrators reported maintaining lists of eligible but unserved children, and many Contract Administrators and Providers expressed willingness to expand current programs or consider becoming NC Pre-K Programs with additional funding. However, survey respondents generally perceived that there were no or small numbers of eligible but unserved children within their communities. Yet other sources of data suggest larger unmet needs, with only about one-quarter of counties serving 75% of eligible children. In addition, greater systems-level support, such as through linked administrative data sources and interagency collaborative efforts, could facilitate other methods for finding eligible children as well as increasing awareness of the need.
  28. 28. 26 Further investigation is needed of broader issues within the NC early childhood landscape that may intersect with expansion of the NC Pre-K Program and the populations of eligible but unserved children. It is critical to examine the match between the needs of families and the extent to which NC Pre-K Programs can meet those needs. For example, a higher proportion of non-NC Pre-K Providers offered alternative options for care, which fall outside of NC Pre-K funded services. Further, given the general perceptions of few eligible but unserved children within the existing communities offering opportunities for NC Pre-K or other child care services, another relevant issue may include examination of the nature and existence of child care deserts across the state. Several survey respondents acknowledged the existing discrepancies between access and need for families.
  29. 29. 27 Sample Characteristics Table 1. Overall Survey Participation Survey Distribution and Response NC Pre-K Contract Administrators NC Pre-K Providers Non-NC Pre-K Providers n % n % n % Initial Received List 91 -- 1164 -- 1549 -- Final Sent List 91 -- 1055 -- 1325 -- Did Not Respond 9 9.89 493 46.73 925 69.81 Responded 82 90.11 562 53.27 400 30.19 Table 2. Survey Response by Type of NC Pre-K Contractor Contracting Agency Type NC Pre-K Contract Administrators Responded to Survey N=82 Did Not Respond to Survey N=9 n % n % Chi-square p-value Local Partnership for Children (Smart Start) 43 52.44 3 33.33 ns Local Education Agency (School District) 36 43.90 6 66.67 Head Start Grantee 3 3.66 0 0 Note: *p ≤.05; **p ≤.01; ***p ≤.001; ns=not significant
  30. 30. 28 Table 3. Survey Response by NC Pre-K Provider Program Characteristics NC Pre-K DHHS Program Characteristics NC Pre-K Providers Responded to Surveya Did Not Respond to Surveya n % n % Chi-square p-value Permit Type * Five Star Center License 491 91.60 423 86.68 Four Star Center License 45 8.40 65 13.32 Subsidy Approved ** Yes 317 59.14 246 50.41 No 219 40.86 242 49.59 Met Head Start Requirements ns Yes 52 9.70 38 7.79 No 484 90.30 450 92.21 Met NC Pre-K Requirements ns Yes 465 86.75 431 88.32 No 71 13.25 57 11.68 Category of Operationb College/University 10 1.87 1 0.21 Community College 1 0.19 0 0 Community Service Agency 15 2.80 4 0.82 Contracted Provider 1 0.19 1 0.21 Employer/Employee Sponsored 1 0.19 0 0 Federal 1 0.19 0 0 Franchise 25 4.67 9 1.85 Head Start 41 7.66 26 5.34 Independent 158 29.53 121 24.85 Local Public School 265 49.53 307 63.04 Mental Health 2 0.37 0 0 Parent Co-op/Group 0 0 2 0.41 Religious Sponsored 15 2.80 16 3.29 Sponsor Business Classificationc *** Private for Profit 12 2.24 6 1.23 Private for Profit Corporation 99 18.50 73 14.99
  31. 31. 29 NC Pre-K DHHS Program Characteristics NC Pre-K Providers Responded to Surveya Did Not Respond to Surveya n % n % Chi-square p-value Private for Profit LLC 24 4.49 14 2.87 Private for Profit Proprietor/Partner 33 6.17 29 5.95 Private for Profit Proprietorship 4 0.75 2 0.41 Private Non-Profit 75 14.02 44 9.03 Public County 213 39.81 237 48.67 Public Federal 7 1.31 7 1.44 Public Municipal 6 1.12 4 0.82 Public State 57 10.65 65 13.35 Quasi-Public Agency 5 0.93 6 1.23 Note: *p ≤.05; **p ≤.01; ***p ≤.001; ns=not significant aNote: Number of respondents varied across items because some questions were not answered by all survey respondents. bNote: Category of operation is reported but comparisons were not conducted cNote: Chi-square comparison between private vs public & quasi-public agencies
  32. 32. 30 Table 4. Survey Response by Non-NC Pre-K Provider Program Characteristics Non-NC Pre-K DHHS Program Characteristics Non-NC Pre-K Providers Responded to Surveya Did Not Respond to Surveya n % n % Chi-square p-value Permit Type * Five Star Center License 228 57.00 459 49.62 Four Star Center License 172 43.00 480 50.38 Subsidy Approved ns Yes 344 86.22 828 89.51 No 55 13.78 97 10.49 Met Head Start Requirements ns Yes 28 7.02 48 5.19 No 371 92.98 877 94.81 Met NC Pre-K Requirements ns Yes 13 3.26 45 4.86 No 386 96.74 880 95.14 Category of Operationb College/University 23 5.79 77 8.35 Community College 108 27.20 303 32.86 Community Service Agency 60 15.11 133 14.43 Contracted Provider 61 15.37 145 15.73 Employer/Employee Sponsored 10 2.52 34 3.69 Federal 89 22.42 153 16.59 Franchise 22 5.54 40 4.34 Head Start 12 3.02 11 1.19 Independent 2 0.50 3 0.33 Local Public School 7 1.76 15 1.63 Mental Health 3 0.76 8 0.87 Other 2 0.50 0 0 Parent Co-op/Group 1 0.25 2 0.22 Park and Recreation 1 0.25 1 0.11 Private School 5 1.25 4 0.43 Religious Sponsored 45 11.28 80 8.66
  33. 33. 31 Non-NC Pre-K DHHS Program Characteristics Non-NC Pre-K Providers Responded to Surveya Did Not Respond to Surveya n % n % Chi-square p-value Sponsor Business Classificationc ns Private for Profit 23 5.79 77 8.35 Private for Profit Corporation 108 27.20 303 32.86 Private for Profit LLC 60 15.11 133 14.43 Private for Profit Proprietor/Partner 61 15.37 145 15.73 Private for Profit Proprietorship 10 2.52 34 3.69 Private Non-Profit 89 22.42 153 16.59 Public County 22 5.54 40 4.34 Public Federal 12 3.02 11 1.19 Public Municipal 2 0.50 3 0.33 Public State 7 1.76 15 1.63 Quasi-Public Agency 3 0.76 8 0.87 Note: *p ≤.05; **p ≤.01; ***p ≤.001; ns=not significant aNote: Number of respondents varied across items because some questions were not answered by all survey respondents. bNote: Category of operation is reported but comparisons were not conducted. cNote: Chi-square comparison between private vs public & quasi-public agencies
  34. 34. 32 Table 5. Education Level by Respondent Type Highest Education Attained NC Pre-K Contract Administrators N=82 NC Pre-K Providers N=562 Non-NC Pre-K Providers N=400 n % n % n % High school diploma / GED 0 0 0 0 1 0.25 Some college 0 0 1 0.18 36 9.00 Associate degree / 2-year degree 1 1.22 12 2.14 97 24.25 Bachelor’s degree 28 34.15 204 36.30 182 45.50 Master’s degree 43 52.44 285 50.71 75 18.75 Doctorate / Professional degree 10 12.20 60 10.68 9 2.25 Table 6. Years of Experience by Respondent Type Amount of Experience NC Pre-K Contract Administrators N=79 NC Pre-K Providers N=551 Non-NC Pre-K Providers N=395 Mean SD Range Mean SD Range Mean SD Range Years of Experience 8.94 6.20 0.17-20.83 9.84 9.11 0-45.67 14.37 10.33 0-49.17
  35. 35. 33 Study 1 Tables - Statewide Challenges to Becoming, Expanding, & Maintaining NC Pre-K Programs NC Pre-K Funding History and Other Funding Sources Table 7. Acceptance of NC Pre-K Expansion Funds / Additional Slots (past 3 years) by Respondent Type Accepted Expansion Funds / Additional Slots NC Pre-K Contract Administrators N=79 NC Pre-K Providers N=526 n % n % Accepted 2017-2018 31 39.24 57 10.84 Accepted 2018-2019 33 41.77 85 16.16 Accepted 2019-2020 51 64.56 125 23.76 Did not accept last 3 years 21 26.58 329 62.55 Table 8. Types of Funding for Children by Respondent Type Types of Funding for Children NC Pre-K Contract Administrators N=82 NC Pre-K Providers N=539 Non-NC Pre-K Providers N=398 n % n % n % NCPK 82 100.00 517 95.92 16 4.02 Head Start 44 53.66 97 18.00 37 9.30 Title I 48 58.54 124 23.01 5 1.26 Child Care Subsidy 35 42.68 241 44.71 321 80.65 Preschool Exceptional Child 45 54.88 81 15.03 10 2.51 Smart Start 39 47.56 123 22.82 92 23.12 Parent Fees 28 34.15 242 44.90 273 68.59 Private Parent Pay only 22 26.83 83 15.40 133 28.39 Other 4 4.88 35 6.49 51 12.81
  36. 36. 34 Setting Information Table 9. Previous Participation in the NC Pre-K Program for Current Non-NC Pre-K Providers Previous Participation in NC Pre-K Non-NC Pre-K Providers n % Ever Applied Yes 74 19.89 No 298 80.11 Ever Selected (if applied) Yes 32 43.24 No 42 56.76 Years Participated (if selected) a 2011-12 15 51.72 2012-13 13 44.83 2013-14 16 55.17 2014-15 15 51.72 2015-16 10 34.48 2016-17 7 24.14 2017-18 8 27.59 2018-19 7 24.14 a Note: Results for this item were based on 29 responses of the 32 providers who reported previous selection for NC Pre-K.
  37. 37. 35 Table 10. Size of NC Pre-K Contracts Classroom Groupings NC Pre-K Contracts Number of Sites Number of Classrooms Number of Children Number of Lead Teachers Number of Assistant Teachers N Mean (SD) Range N Mean (SD) Range N Mean (SD) Range N Mean (SD) Range N Mean (SD) Range 4-year-olds only 66 13.64 (17.90) 1-102 66 22.21 (27.13) 1-147 66 261.60 (254.40) 18-1,650 66 22.21 (28.21) 1-147 66 22.71 (28.57) 1-147 Preschool mixed age a 28 1.11 (0.42) 1-3 28 136.10 (124.50) 6-398 28 10.00 (8.05) 1-26 28 14.54 (14.38) 1-58 - - - Totals 76 12.26 (17.14) 1-102 76 70.62 (96.89) 1-398 76 230.90 (251.80) 3-1,650 76 24.71 (27.60) 2-147 76 22.71 (28.57) 1-147 a Preschool mixed age includes age groupings 3-4, 2-4, 2-5, 3-5
  38. 38. 36 Table 11. Program Size by Provider Type Classroom Grouping Number of Classrooms Number of Children Number of Lead Teachers Number of Assistant Teachers N Mean (SD) Range N Mean (SD) Range N Mean (SD) Range N Mean (SD) Range NC Pre-K Providers NC Pre-K Groupings 4-year-olds only 467 1.88 (2.86) 0-45 398 30.58 (23.68) 5-180 396 1.86 (1.37) 1-10 395 1.91 (1.51) 0-11 Preschool mixed age a 79 1.04 (0.19) 1-2 79 33.85 (38.64) 2-230 79 2.42 (3.52) 1-28 79 3.23 (4.35) 1-28 Non-NC Pre-K Groupings 4-year-olds only 368 0.63 (1.48) 0-15 128 19.32 (13.61) 1-90 127 1.38 (0.77) 1-5 124 1.18 (1.04) 0-5 3-year-olds only 385 0.78 (1.52) 0-18 172 21.28 (16.32) 3-132 170 1.51 (0.99) 1-8 164 1.39 (1.17) 0-8 2-year-olds only 380 0.79 (1.65) 0-18 163 16.58 (10.92) 2-80 161 1.66 (1.91) 1-20 153 1.19 (1.19) 0-10 1-year-olds only 378 0.77 (1.63) 0-21 159 12.56 (7.35) 2-56 157 1.58 (1.26) 1-14 153 1.22 (1.02) 0-5 Infants only 377 0.54 (0.88) 0-10 148 9.20 (4.92) 1-32 146 1.39 (0.72) 1-6 136 1.28 (1.07) 0-8 Infant-toddler mixed age b 60 1.07 (0.25) 1-2 59 10.80 (11.34) 1-78 55 1.60 (1.71) 1-10 60 1.05 (1.16) 0-8 Preschool mixed age a 109 1.27 (0.46) 1-3 108 21.74 (20.43) 4-178 102 1.59 (1.25) 1-11 107 1.38 (1.43) 0-11 School-age mixed age c 42 1.12 (0.45) 1-3 42 92.95 (459.30) 1-2,997 31 7.77 (35.68) 1-200 42 6.79 (38.47) 0-250
  39. 39. 37 Classroom Grouping Number of Classrooms Number of Children Number of Lead Teachers Number of Assistant Teachers N Mean (SD) Range N Mean (SD) Range N Mean (SD) Range N Mean (SD) Range Other mixed age d 31 1.10 (0.40) 1-3 31 17.71 (15.75) 4-76 28 1.93 (1.49) 1-6 31 1.71 (2.24) 0-9 Non-NC Pre-K Providers 4-year-olds only 322 1.07 (1.20) 0-10 224 24.57 (29.43) 1-363 215 1.74 (1.39) 1-12 210 1.12 (1.25) 0-10 3-year-olds only 320 1.04 (1.47) 0-15 209 20.61 (19.02) 2-204 203 1.66 (1.28) 1-11 197 1.10 (1.28) 0-11 2-year-olds only 321 1.10 (1.02) 0-9 229 17.03 (11.27) 1-64 221 1.74 (1.38) 1-10 213 1.11 (0.97) 0-6 1-year-olds only 321 1.15 (1.03) 0-6 232 13.97 (9.01) 1-55 226 1.73 (1.13) 1-8 217 1.20 (1.01) 0-6 Infants only 319 1.01 (0.89) 0-6 222 10.31 (6.21) 1-39 217 1.65 (1.04) 1-8 210 1.16 (0.96) 0-5 Infant-toddler mixed age b 28 1.14 (0.36) 1-2 28 11.93 (8.52) 3-48 24 1.54 (1.67) 1-9 27 1.19 (0.62) 0-2 Preschool mixed age a 79 1.27 (0.50) 1-3 78 25.77 (36.50) 1-292 76 1.92 (2.24) 1-18 77 2.16 (2.70) 0-18 School-age mixed age c 25 1.08 (0.28) 1-2 25 25.80 (13.89) 1-60 22 1.45 (0.74) 1-3 23 0.87 (0.76) 0-3 a Preschool mixed age includes age groupings 2-3, 3-4, 2-4, 2-5, 3-5 b Infant-toddler mixed age includes age groupings 0-1, 0-2, 1-2 c School-age mixed age includes age groupings 6 or above, school-age, after-school d Other includes other age grouping combinations

A study done by the Frank Porter Graham Institute at UNC-Chapel Hill and funded by the NC Department of Health and Human Services on the barriers for maintaining, expanding, and becoming NC Pre-K programs

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