Pre-K Works

Families who can access a Pre-K program of their choice are more likely to enter the workforce and stay employed—helping build a healthier, more equitable and vibrant economy in Forsyth County. When we do the right thing for our children and families, our economy works in ways that benefit all of us.

Communities with Vision

Communities with vision strategically invest in programs and services with a high return on investment to drive their economic development. Learn why high-quality Pre-K investments are important for our workforce and economic development and must form part of our community’s plan for the future.

Families being able to work is good for economic development.

In any given year in Forsyth County, there are over 4,500+ 4-year-old children. When their families have access to high-quality full-day Pre-K, it makes it possible and more financially viable to be part of the workforce.

Recruitment and retention of the workforce is good for economic development.

According to national recruiting firms, top key factors in deciding to move for a job include access to amenities such as health care facilities, schools or academic institutions for ongoing learning or education for children, and other aspects that contribute to a family's quality of life.

Pre-K and offering childcare support can reduce employee turnover rates, which is especially significant in industries with high turnover costs. Turnover costs can range from 30%–200% of an employee's annual salary.

Productivity is good for economic development.

Even if a parent already works, high-quality childcare/Pre-K helps parents improve their productivity at work by missing fewer work hours and opening up options for further education.

According to a US Chamber of Commerce Foundation report, 1 in 3 businesses felt that child care issues factored a “great deal” into loss of productivity for employees.

Companies that prioritize the needs and well-being of their employees recognize that access to high-quality Pre-K can alleviate a significant stressor for working parents.

Supporting the development of entrepreneurs is good for economic development.

Key findings from Harvard highlight that the average age of successful startup founders is between 35–45 years, during key child-rearing years. With a growing entrepreneurial ecosystem in Forsyth County, Pre-K and childcare investments can make it easier for budding entrepreneurs to invest the time needed to grow their companies.

Stronger education outcomes are good for economic development.

55% of 3rd graders in Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools are not proficient in reading. 68% of African-American children and 72% of Latinx children are not proficient in reading, yet they represent close to 60% of the children in our school system. Providing access to high-quality Pre-K shifts kindergarten readiness and will have positive repercussions on literacy outcomes and beyond.

Economic inclusion is good for economic development.

A national Penn Wharton study showed that the labor force participation rate for low-income mothers with preschool aged children could increase by an average of 29% if universal preschool became available. With the ability to return to work, women are able to advance their careers. Economic analysis shows that as women’s labor force increases, so does the GDP.

Forsyth County,North Carolina has the third lowest rate of upward economic mobility of any other county in the United States. One of the strongest correlates of upward mobility is the quality of schools in the local system.

Crime reduction and safety is good for economic development.

Forsyth County crime is higher than the national average. Children who have the opportunity to learn through a developmentally appropriate curriculum at a young age have better social/emotional skills, are better equipped to express themselves, and less likely to be physically aggressive or violent. The benefits of high-quality early learning and care can last into adulthood, as children who have attended high-quality preschool programs have lower rates of incarceration and substance abuse.

Pre-K Is Working in communities

Forsyth County

In 2022, Forsyth County and the city of Winston-Salem provided the first local Pre-K funding ($4M+ in American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) grant funding) to enhance quality in over 30 existing Pre-K classrooms in our community.

Counties like Mecklenberg, Wake, and Buncombe are making significant local investments in high-quality Pre-K.


In 2024 Mecklenberg County is spending just over $23 million on MECK Pre-K for a total investment of $69 million. That program, along with Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools‘ Bright Beginnings, partly funded by the county, and the state's Pre-K program, serve a total of 5,800 children in the county.


Wake County has been able to reach universal access for 4-year-old children and has already expanded to 3-year-olds.


Buncombe County’s recently approved $603 million budget for fiscal year 2024 includes an investment of $3,892,756 for early childhood education. Commissioners have named early childhood and development among their top priorities for community investments in an effort to ensure that every child in the County has an equal opportunity to thrive during their first 2,000 days. The funding will be distributed to 16 organizations supporting 21 programs.

We are Already Paying for a Lack of Pre-K

Investments in high-quality Pre-K programs pay for themselves over time by generating benefits for participants, the nonparticipating public, and government itself.

For every dollar invested in high-quality Pre-K, the return on investment has been shown to range from $2.63–$17.

Children and their families get part of these total benefits, but the benefits to the rest of the public and government are large, too. On their own, these benefits outweigh the costs of these programs. Taxpayers benefit because children attending Pre-K are less likely to repeat a grade or require expensive special education services. Later in life, individuals who participated in preschool were less likely to engage in crime or be incarcerated.

All of these are outcomes that reduce the cost of taxpayer-funded public services. In addition to the financial implications, if we invest earlier in a child’s trajectory, we set them up for more consistent positive learning and social experiences that support their outlook, sense of belonging, and mental/physical/emotional wellness.

North Carolina was the first state in the nation to make full-day kindergarten universally available. Let’s make four the new five in Forsyth County and lead the charge with other large cities to make Pre-K a priority in our community.

Show your support


Sign the Pledge

If you believe all children have the right to equitable learning opportunities that help them achieve their full potential in school, work, and life, sign our pledge to show community support for Pre-K in our community.

Sign the Pledge

Organizations can also show their support by signing our Declaration of Support and returning to


Offer High-Quality Childcare to Your Employees

If you are an employer, consider investigating childcare and high-quality Pre-K opportunities for employees, starting with Child Care Resource Center. You may also consider childcare subsidies as a form of incentive to enhance recruitment and retention.


Request Childcare Support From Your Employer

If you are an employee, consider requesting childcare support from your employer. This guide provides tips and creative solutions employees may not be aware of.


Support Local Organizations

Join existing community efforts around access to early childhood education and high-quality Pre-K by volunteering or supporting local organizations doing great work. Learn more about who is involved by reading about Our Partners.



Learn about and advocate for policies and funding that would expand equitable access to high-quality Pre-K in Forsyth County. To start, read more about Leandro vs. the State of NC and other early education issues facing our state.