Grown in Durham

Durham's Early Childhood Action Plan (ECAP)

Original artwork by local artist, Atigré Farmer

Together, we can make Durham a place where ALL children from birth through 8 can THRIVE.

Read about Durham's Early Childhood Action Plan and navigate through the different website pages of this website to learn more.


Visit the "Get Involved" page to learn more about how you can support this work!

Announcing Grown in Durham’s “5 to Thrive”

The Grown in Durham steering committee has prioritized five strategies to start with for fundraising and action—our “Five to Thrive.” The plan itself includes 58 strategies—so we needed a place to start. Here they are in short form:

  1. Physical space and peer support: Creating spaces where families are welcomed and connected with services through peer support.

  2. Basic income pilot: Improving family economic security and increasing economic agency through cash assistance.

  3. Child care campaign: Raising awareness and advocating for important investments to sustain and strengthen our child care system.

  4. Affirming and inclusive child care: Increase community education and support about understanding, identifying, and accessing developmentally-appropriate, affirming care that is inclusive of all, especially Black and Brown children and children with disabilities.

  5. Child social-emotional health: Supporting social emotional health of our children at home and in schools.

Visit our “Get Involved” page to learn about ways that you can help implement the Five to Thrive. There are opportunities big and small and everyone’s voice matters!


Download and print the ECAP Coloring Book to share Durham's dreams for our young children with your families.

What is the Durham Early Childhood Action Plan?

In 2019, the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services released North Carolina’s Early Childhood Action Plan (ECAP). The plan sets forth a bold vision for North Carolina’s children, focused on making steady progress towards achieving ambitious goals relating to children’s health and development, safety and well-being, and learning.

Building off this statewide work, Durham is now the first county in the state to create an ECAP specific to our community. We are thrilled to share this report - “Grown in Durham: Durham’s Early Childhood Action Plan,” which serves as a blueprint for strengthening our early childhood systems in Durham.

The "Grown in Durham" plan describes:

  • HOW we as a community of parents, families, community members, early childhood providers, and early childhood systems leaders have worked together over the past year to create this plan.

  • WHY we must do more to ensure all children in Durham can thrive.

  • WHAT we need to do to in order for all children to thrive.


The "Grown in Durham" plan has 5 goals to ensure:

  • Our early childhood system is STRONG

  • All children and families have their BASIC NEEDS met

  • All children are SAFE AND NURTURED

  • All children are HEALTHY

  • All children are LEARNING and READY TO SUCCEED

Who Created the Plan?

The Durham Early Childhood Action Plan was a collective labor of love and was created with leadership from almost 150 parents, caregivers, early childhood providers, community leaders, and institutional leaders and the input of more than 1,000 parents across Durham who all had a little one in mind.

The planning process was funded and facilitated through a public-private partnership between Durham County and the Durham Children's Initiative.

Why do we need an Early Childhood Action Plan (ECAP)?

In Durham, not all children and families have the same opportunities to thrive. We believe all children deserve to grow up healthy, in safe and nurturing communities, where they can play, learn, and be ready to succeed in school and life.

Sharing the Plan

There are nearly 35,000 children from birth through age 8 in Durham County. We believe each and every child deserves to grow up in a community where they can THRIVE. Check out Durham’s shared goals and strategies to support Durham’s youngest population in Durham's Early Childhood Action Plan.

We encourage you to share the plan far and wide! You can share via email, social media, or print using this communications toolkit:

The 21 Durham ECAP Recommendations

Strengthening Durham's Early Childhood System

  1. Address institutional racism as a root cause and share power with parents and communities.

  2. Ensure early childhood professionals across sectors are respected, well-compensated, highly trained and reflect the communities they serve.

  3. Increase resource awareness and create an easily navigable service system for families with young children.

  4. Facilitate data sharing between agencies and with communities to better understand areas of greatest need, track progress, and promote transparency and accountability.

  5. Ensure early childhood services are accessible and welcoming to families regardless of immigration status or English language proficiency.

  6. Expand opportunities for accessible, inclusive, safe and family-friendly enrichment activities and public spaces.

  7. Advocate for workplaces that understand and support the needs of families with young children.

Original artwork by local artist, Atigré Farmer

Ensuring Durham's Young Children and Their Families Have Their Basic Needs Met

Original artwork by local artist, Atigré Farmer

8. Ensure families with young children have economic security and opportunities for wealth-building and long-term economic prosperity.

9. Promote access to safe, stable, affordable and healthy housing for families with young children .

10. Ensure families with young children have access to enough affordable, culturally relevant, healthy food every day.

11. Ensure families have the essential family supplies needed to support pre- and post-partum health and to care for babies and young children.

12. Provide reliable and free or low-cost transportation to early childhood services.

Ensuring Durham's Young Children are Safe and Nurtured

13. Promote preventive and responsive approaches to foster social-emotional, mental health and resilience of young children and their families.

14. Reimagine Social Services and Child Protective Services to become more trauma-informed, anti-racist, and focused on prevention.

15. Ensure birth through 3rd grade learning environments, birth through 3rd grade, are trauma-informed, culturally affirming, gender affirming, and focused on social-emotional health.


Original artwork by local artist, Atigré Farmer

Ensuring Durham's Young Children are Healthy

Original artwork by local artist, Atigré Farmer

16. Create and implement approaches to culturally affirming, anti-racist maternal and child healthcare.

17. Ensure families have access to convenient, affordable, preventive and responsive maternal and child healthcare.

Ensuring Durham's Young Children are Learning and Ready to Succeed

18. Invest in a sustainable child care system to provide high quality, culturally-affirming, and developmentally-appropriate early learning experiences that are affordable and accessible to all.

19. Develop a coordinated transition between early childhood education and elementary school that emphasizes developmentally-appropriate practice, exploration, and play.

20. Ensure children with developmental delays and/or disabilities learn in environments where they can thrive and their families have the support they need to advocate and care for their children.

21. Promote and support play and early literacy for young children starting at birth in partnership with parents, guardians, and caregivers.

Original artwork by local artist, Atigré Farmer