Forsyth County Commissioners in North Carolina approved a $3.7 million investment in American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funding to ensure 30 Pre-K classrooms can operate for the next two years.
Pre-K Priority, a collaborative organization working to make high-quality preschool accessible, is running the Smart Start program receiving the funding.
In 2019-20, only 27% of eligible children in Forsyth County were enrolled in Pre-K, a stark difference from the 67% in neighboring Guildford County. Early childhood education has been proven critical for educational and social outcomes on a population level, and also vital to a functional economy.
The funding comes at a time when the COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted a long-standing, and long-growing, childcare crisis in the US. In spite of many wins in the recently-passed Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), one of the most painful failures to carry over priorities from Build Back Better to IRA was the set of provisions that would bolster the trifecta of childcare affordability, childcare worker wages, and childcare business viability in a recognition that this service is a critical piece of infrastructure for a functioning economy.
While childcare supports in Build Back Better failed, Forsyth County has harnessed another federal investment into an opportunity for long term success.