Yesterday’s meeting of the Joint Legislative Task Force on the Consolidation of Early Childhood Education and Care was pretty uneventful. During the meeting, three directors from different local Smart Start programs discussed what they do and the benefits of their programs. Disappointingly, the meeting lacked any actual recommendations for how to consolidate North Carolina’s early childhood education and care programs.
A few items were worth noting, however.
First is this spreadsheet revealing that total funding for early childhood education and care amounts to $1.1 billion this fiscal year (state and federal funds combined).
Secondly, Wake County Smart Start Executive Director Pam Dowdy noted the high cost of day care in her presentation. Amazingly, there was no mention about the $400 million in child care subsidies (state and federal dollars combined) being poured into the system, creating an artificially high demand for such services (and not to mention the tens of millions more in Smart Start and More at Four dollars flowing to day care facilities that host children in those programs). There was also no mention of how the state artificially limits supply of day cares through licensing procedures, mandated staff-to-child ratios and mountains of regulatory red tape serving as barriers to entry. Simple supply and demand tells us that when demand is artificially inflated while supply is limited, the end result is an inflated price. Somehow this most basic of economic lessons was lost on Ms. Dowdy and the task force members as no one was able to make that obvious connection.
Lastly, probably the most-discussed topic was the organizational chart (see below) depicting the sources and flow of funding for North Carolina early childhood education and care. If anything got the task force members’ attention as to why consolidation efforts are needed, this was it.