JG Research and Evaluation has been contracted by Buncombe Partnership for Children (BPFC) to develop a research project that identifies barriers and evaluates solutions to increase access for North Carolina’s (NC) Pre-K program in Buncombe County. Similar to Head Start, NC Pre-K is a free program for income-eligible families. JG researchers will work alongside staff and community co-investigators to determine preliminary research goals, questions, and methodologies in an effort to identify barriers that people experience when accessing NC Pre-K, along with possible solutions. BPFC is committed to combating the structural barriers limit the accessibility of NC Pre-K, including increasing pay for NC Pre-K teachers and transportation to rural areas.

This project will lean on Community Based Participatory Research (CBPR) through collaboration with Buncombe County (BC) community members to identify and evaluate solutions. CPBR is an integrative approach to research that draws on community perspective to inform a research question through equitably involving community members, organizational representatives, and academic researchers alike.

In order to find solutions to the barriers people experience when accessing NC Pre-K, this study will ask the following research questions:

  • What are the barriers to keeping families enrolled?
  • How do bureaucratic barriers such as income eligibility requirements, locating applicable programs, and application processes affect family attitudes and behaviors towards enrollment?
  • What are the benefits or facilitators to being enrolled in NC Pre-K for families?
  • What community identified solutions exist?
  • What types of transportation are working/would work best for families?
  • What prevents enrollment for income-eligible families?
  • What role does class, race, ethnicity, citizenship and family structure play?

The project will kick off during a World Café event September on 19th in Asheville, NC. At the World Café, the research project will be discussed with the greater community in order to engage with the CPBR research approach. There will also be a community wide quantitative survey that runs September through October. The initial findings will be integrated and presented to the community at a reception and dinner in mid-May 2024. Stay tuned for the final product!