The Hunt Institute and DCDEE Present at BBF Professional Development Event

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On Friday, October 27, BBF participants from around the state joined us in Raleigh at the offices of DHHS’ Division of Child Development and Early Education (DCDEE). This educational event provided BBF apprentices, mentors, and child care center directors and owners a further look into the roles and impact DCDEE and The Hunt Institute have on the early childhood landscape in North Carolina. It was a packed room of over 50 BBF participants, representing 14 organizations and seven counties across the state!

DCDEE Hunt Audience 3

BBF participants listen as Ariel Ford, DCDEE Director, speaks
DCDEE Hunt Attendees

Over 50 participants attended the event at DCDEE in Raleigh, NC


DCDEE presenters Jenine Gatewood, Ariel Ford, Alison Keisler, Dawn Winn-Birdo, and Theresa Roedersheimer

DCDEE is responsible for ensuring the health and safety of children in child care programs, promoting quality, and increasing access to high-quality child care for families across the state. During the panel discussion, DCDEE leaders detailed how Child Care and Development Funds (CCDF) are administered to child care programs and how they serve as a liaison between families, educators, and government leaders in advocating for and creating policy. DCDEE works with educators and families as a resource to answer questions about rules and regulations as well as develops policies and procedures to ensure the health and safety of children and staff. They are also responsible for overseeing the NC Pre-K program, a program that enhances kindergarten readiness for eligible 4-year-olds. Ariel Ford, Director of DCDEE, shared that the Division designs programs based on the feedback and needs of children, educators, families, and communities, with several listening sessions as part of the review process. She emphasized the importance of early child care, stating, “You have power in your (child care) program and as a professional. We are here to help you.”

Morgan with Hunt Presenters

As an ardent champion of education, Governor Hunt established the North Carolina Business Committee for Education (NCBCE) in 1983, with the mission of connecting the state’s business and education leaders to better prepare students for the workforce through work-based learning. Following his final term as Governor, he inspired the establishment of The Hunt Institute in 2001. The Hunt Institute provides research, technical assistance, and learning opportunities for policymakers and education professionals as they advocate for education reform. In 1983, under Governor Hunt’s leadership, Ann Hentschel, Director of Early Learning, shared how the Institute works with legislators, policy advisors, and early childhood system leaders across state and nation to identify policy priorities. The Hunt Institute partners with DCDEE and Duke University’s Center for Child and Family Policy to create the Birth-Five Needs Assessment. This assessment provides data that analyzes strengths, addresses barriers, and supports recommendations to improve the current state of early child care, especially following the impact of the COVID pandemic. Emily Chavis, Policy Analyst in Early Learning at The Hunt Institute, summarized the latest assessment for attendees, explaining that despite efforts to maintain services and increase compensation for educators, families continue to struggle with access to services. While the stabilization grants have helped bring back early educators to the field, a long-term solution is still needed to support this vital workforce.

Photo: BBF Program Director Morgan Ford with Ann Hentschel and Emily Chavis of The Hunt Institute

One of the goals of Building Bright Futures is to bring career awareness to participants through resources and professional development experiences. During the presentations, each representative from DCDEE and The Hunt Institute shared the career path that brought them to their current role. They are former lead teachers in early child care, K-12 teachers, social workers, administrators, and consultants, to name a few. With opportunities for continuing education and training, there are a multitude of career options for those interested in the field.

DCDEE Hunt Audience 1

Apprentices from Charlotte Bilingual Preschool and interpreters discuss the afternoon's activity
DCDEE Hunt Audience 4

Participants from A Safe Place in Raleigh, NC take notes

It was a great day of learning and connecting for our participants. As the final attendees were filing out, we heard a touching story from one apprentice who, before this event, wasn’t sure she wanted to continue working in early childhood. Feeling the camaraderie and hearing from others about the passion they have for this field and why they stay in it empowered her to continue educating young children and helping families. 

October 2023 Newsletter Article