A North Carolina early learning advocacy group set up more than 400 life-size paper dolls outside the N.C. General Assembly Thursday morning in an effort to push the legislature to support early learning programs this session.
The dolls were designed by children in SmartStart and other childcare programs across North Carolina, and were made to remind legislators of the dangers of cutting early childhood development programs.
The group of mothers who organized the display, called North Carolina MomsRising, advocates for early learning programs such as SmartStart and NC Pre-K.
“While the paper dolls may be two-dimensional, our children aren’t,” said Beth Messersmith, campaign director for North Carolina MomsRising.
Messersmith explained the importance of quality early childcare, not only for the futures of North Carolina children, but also for the state’s taxpayers.
She said funding early childhood education may “provide taxpayers with returns of 7-10 percent per year for every dollar invested due to future reduced costs in remedial education, health, criminal justice system expenditures, and the tax revenues generated from increased earnings.”
Lt. Gov. Walter Dalton, this year’s Democratic nominee for governor, made a brief appearance at the gathering to show his support for the cause, stopping to take photos with and speak to the group of mothers and children gathered.
The N.C. House passed its version of a $20.3 billion budget Wednesday which included $1 million for early literacy programs and $15 million for NC Pre-K. The spending plan now goes to the Senate.