Direct Services

The quality of interactions between children and their parents/caregivers will ultimately determine the success of Great Expectations. Therefore, we will make a significant, concentrated investment in supporting children, parents and other adult caregivers. Specifically, we will look for community supports and services that are focused on the whole family system and that bridge service divides. Early research commissioned by the Kate B. Reynolds Charitable Trust yielded an analysis that there are four critical areas for investment in direct services required to achieve the Great Expectations goal. These are:

Core Priority 1: Child and Family Health
Core Priority 2: Self-Regulation and Executive Function
Core Priority 3: Parent-Child Interaction
Core Priority 4: Oral Language and Vocabulary Development

Each of these areas is described more fully here, with examples of Great Expectations investments made to date.

Core Priority 1
Child and Family Health

Children cannot develop to their full potential if they or their parents/caregivers are not healthy. To ensure that every young child has the health and wellness supports they need, Great Expectations will support: 

  • Child and Family Participation in Nutrition Programs—assuring that information about nutrition benefits is readily available and that parents are connected to supports as desired. Specifically, Great Expectations aims to increase participation in WIC, SNAP and the school-based Free and Reduced Price Meals Program
  • Breastfeeding and Responsive Feeding—coordinating the multiple efforts currently underway in Forsyth County and establishing a process for case management and evaluation across programs
  • Interventions for Child and Adult Mental Health—calling attention to the issue of maternal depression and its negative impact on young children’s development, and supporting early and ongoing intervention through nurse home visiting and other investments


Forsyth County Department of Public Health
Program Name: Nurse-Family Partnership

Carolina Global Breastfeeding Institute
Program Name: Enhancing Caretaker Skills – Optimal Responsive Feeding for Child Development

Core Priority 2
Self-Regulation and Executive Function

How well a child performs and thrives in a kindergarten classroom is largely dependent on their behavior and mental health. Self-regulation (the ability to control one’s emotions and maintain focus and attention) and executive function (which manages cognitive tasks like working memory, reasoning, and problem solving) are key to kindergarten readiness—and their development is greatly influenced by the level of development of these skills in adult parents/caregivers. According to the Child Health Development Institute, social-emotional development is often an area in which children are least prepared for kindergarten. Great Expectations will invest in several areas that can have a positive impact on the development of these essential life skills, including: 

  • Infant Mental Health—educating parents and early care/education providers about early social-emotional development and executive functioning 
  • Infant Mental Health Specialists—supporting the development of a cadre of credentialed mental health specialists, providing professional development modules on early social-emotional development, and expanding access to evidence-based programs specializing in the treatment of maternal depression
  • Parent-Child Mental Health—providing start-up and implementation funding for programs that address mental health concerns for both parents and children, preferably together 
  • Mental Health Interventions for Preschool and Early Elementary School     Settings—highlighting strong policy and research and helping to deploy resources to implement and fund these services
  • Mental Health Screenings—promoting the use of common screening tools for mental health across agencies

In addition, because of the overwhelming evidence that shows the positive impact of proactive home visiting programs that serve expectant and new parents/caregivers, the Trust is exploring investment in the implementation of a home visiting program that could potentially reach all financially-disadvantaged families in Forsyth County.
                                                                                                                                                CURRENT GRANTEES

Family Services
Program Name: Forsyth County School Readiness Project

First Book
Program Name: Mind in the Making

Core Priority 3
Parent-Child Interaction and Caregiving Capacity

Young children are cared for in many places—in the homes of their family, friends, or neighbors and in professional childcare centers. Whether in family, friend, and neighbor (FFN) care or professional settings, caregivers who know about the importance of providing high-quality experiences for young children and monitoring their progress toward developmental milestones are more likely to create opportunities for their success. Great Expectations will invest in programs that support both FFN and professional childcare providers to improve their capacity. 

Family, Friend, and Neighbor Childcare Providers                                                 Approximately 80 percent of children under the age of five in Forsyth County are receiving care in settings other than regulated centers. In order to support family, friend and neighbor (FFN) childcare providers, Great Expectations will invest in organizations that have experience providing technical assistance, fostering program development and conducting outreach in Forsyth County. The approaches employed with FFN childcare providers should recognize that these individuals may experience some of the same adverse life conditions as the parents/caregivers of the children they serve. Because some FFN providers are grandparents, they may be able to share their learning about child development and parenting strategies with their children, supporting a three-generation approach. 

Professional Providers                                                                                              Professional development is crucial for professional childcare providers and teachers, but it must consist of more than providing information about evidence-based practices. To truly change teacher or provider practice, investments that intentionally and continuously support the development of desired knowledge or skills are required. The Trust is investing in professional development that promotes the development of specific skills to enhance the content of classroom curriculum and improve the quality of the teaching process.  
                                                                                                                                                CURRENT GRANTEES

Smart Start of Forsyth County
Program Name: Our Teaching Partners

Frank Porter Graham Child Development Institute
Program Name: More Than Baby Talk                                                                          

Winston Salem/Forsyth County Schools
Program Names: Ready Schools, WS/FCS Power of K Teacher Leader Initiative and North Carolina Association for the Education of Young Children

Carolina Global Breastfeeding Institute
Program Name: Enhancing Caretaker Skills – Optimal Responsive Feeding for Child Development

Reach Out and Read
Program Name: Building Resources for Families and Physicians

Zero to Three
Program Name: Knowledge and How to Nurture Early Development

El Buen Pastor
Program Name: Mother-Child Education Programs: Listos! and Mas Listos

photo by Nancy Sidelinger

photo by Nancy Sidelinger

Core Priority 4
Oral Language and Vocabulary Development

Young children begin learning language from their first interactions with caring adults in their lives, including their parents/caregivers and childcare providers. A child's ability to recognize and use words develops dramatically in their first 12-18 months of life and is highly dependent on the quality and frequency of language exchanges with parents/caregivers. Studies show that by the time children from financially-disadvantaged households reach the age of three, they will have heard 30 million fewer total words and engaged in fewer back-and-forth conversations than their more affluent peers—a gap that is later associated with disparities in language development, school readiness, and long-term educational outcomes. 

To support language development, the Trust is investing in programs that support and enrich intentional interactions between children and teachers that foster the language and communication skills that are linked to children’s later achievement in math, reading, science, and their school readiness and academic success. 

To address the disparity in language development between financially-disadvantaged and more affluent children, the Trust is investing in programs that provide childcare centers, health clinics and other agencies with books and family engagement materials designed to promote language exchanges and acquisition as well as early vocabulary development.
                                                                                                                                          CURRENT GRANTEES

Reach Out and Read
Program Name: Building Resources for Families and Physicians

First Book
Program Name: Mind in the Making

Forsyth County Library
Program Name: Reading Ready for Kindergarten

Carolina Global Breastfeeding Institute
Program Name: Enhancing Caretaker Skills – Optimal Responsive Feeding for Child Development