North Carolina Early Childhood Action Plan: Evidence-based Policy Solutions (2020-2021)

This project team worked to support the North Carolina Early Childhood Action Plan, which aims to have young children healthy, safe, nurtured, learning and ready to succeed statewide. The 2019-2020 team focused on researching one of the goals of the Early Childhood Action Plan that seeks to improve children’s social-emotional health and resilience. The 2020-2021 focused on the food security goal, which aims to ensure that children and their families across North Carolina have access to healthy food.

Team members conducted semi-structured informant interviews and recruited informants from programs based in various sectors, including community, schools, religion, and government, in order to address North Carolina Integrated Care for Kids' (InCK) goal of increasing cross-sector collaboration. These informants either had representation statewide or were from 1 of the 5 InCK counties. The team then used rapid qualitative analysis and a resulting matrix to inform their findings.

The team identified five main findings: the presence of stigma associated with food insecurity and accessing services; the importance of food choice and autonomy when participating in food assistance programs; the necessity for cross-sector collaboration and data-sharing to strengthen referral systems; low levels of usage of the NCCare360 platform related to unfamiliarity and limited staff capacity; and numerous barriers and obstacles in gaining access to and getting enrolled in food assistance programs.

Based on their findings, team members drafted community and policy recommendations to InCK, including strengthening both screening processes and referral mechanisms associated with food insecurity; continuing to focus on outreach to historically marginalized populations; incorporating nutrition-focused education initiatives into their existing programming; and increasing enrollment in federal programs such as SNAP, WIC, the National School Lunch Program and the Summer Food Service Program by continuing education efforts, outreach initiatives and reducing the documentation-associated barriers faced by populations in need.


Fall 2020 – Summer 2021

Team Outputs

Childhood Food Insecurity in North Carolina: Policy Recommendations for NC InCK

Ensuring NC Children Have Access to Healthy Food (2021 Fortin Foundation Bass Connections Virtual Showcase)

Policy Implications of Cross-sector Strategies for Childhood Food Insecurity in North Carolina (lightning talk by Sophie Hurewitz and Elizabeth Jones)

Cross-sector Intervention Strategies to Target Childhood Food Insecurity in North Carolina (poster by Ainsley Buck, Sophie Hurewitz. Michelle Franklin, Gillian Sanders Schmidler, Beth Gifford, K.K. Lam, Lilianna Suarez, Emma Dries, Emma Garman, Reed Kenny, Ellie Winslow, Rushina Cholera)


Sophie Hurewitz

This Team in the News

Ensuring Equitable Access to Autism Screening for Children in North Carolina

Reducing Child Food Insecurity After COVID-19: Policy Innovations And Cross-Sector Partnerships

Senior Spotlight: Reflections from the Class of 2022

A Virtual Stroll through the 2021 Bass Connections Showcase

Duke in North Carolina: Deep-Rooted Ties in Communities Across the State

Faculty Spotlight: Rushina Cholera, MD, PhD

This project team was originally part of the Education & Human Development theme of Bass Connections, which ended in 2022. See related teams, North Carolina Early Childhood Action Plan: Evidence-based Policy Solutions (2021-2022) and NC Early Childhood Action Plan: Achieving Goals with Innovative, Evidence-based Policy Solutions (2019-2020).


Image: Early childhood area, Greensboro Children's Museum, by Government & Heritage Library, State Library of NC, licensed under CC BY 2.0


Team Leaders

  • Rushina Cholera, School of Medicine-Pediatrics: Primary Care Pediatrics
  • Michelle Franklin, School of Medicine-Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences
  • Elizabeth Gifford, Sanford School of Public Policy-Center for Child and Family Policy
  • K.K. (Wendy) Lam, School of Medicine
  • Gillian Sanders Schmidler, School of Medicine-Population Health Sciences|Margolis Center for Health Policy

/graduate Team Members

  • Elizabeth Jones, Masters of Public Policy
  • Lilianna Suarez, Medicine MD Third Year

/undergraduate Team Members

  • Ainsley Buck, Neuroscience (BS)
  • Emma Dries, Public Policy Studies (AB)
  • Emma Garman, Public Policy Studies (AB)
  • Sophie Hurewitz, Neuroscience (AB)
  • Reed Kenny, Public Policy Studies (AB), Global Health (AB2)
  • Erin Winslow, Public Policy Studies (AB)

/yfaculty/staff Team Members

  • Kelly Brownell, Sanford School of Public Policy
  • Anna Gassman-Pines, Sanford School of Public Policy
  • Eliana Perrin, School of Medicine-Pediatrics: Primary Care Pediatrics
  • Corinna Sorenson, School of Medicine-Population Health Sciences|Margolis Center for Health Policy
  • Mary Story, Duke Global Health Institute
  • Charlene Wong, School of Medicine-Pediatrics: Primary Care Pediatrics
  • Charles Wood, School of Medicine-Pediatrics: Primary Care Pediatrics

/zcommunity Team Members

  • Laura Benson, Partnership for Children
  • North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services
  • Drew Cummings, Durham County Government, Office of the County Manager
  • Ben Rose, Durham County Department of Social Services