Family Forward NC Announces First Group of Certified Employers

March 2023

Certified Employers Represent More Than 600 Employees in Communities Across NC

Original Article by Emily Swartzlander | March 6, 2023

Raleigh, NC -- The North Carolina Early Childhood Foundation (NCECF) today announced the first 15 employers -- representing more than 600 employees -- to receive a Family Forward NC Certification.

Certified employers represent workplaces across the state of North Carolina and industries as diverse as manufacturing, child care and web design. These employers have met the certification standards outlined by NCECF's Family Forward NC initiative by offering policies and practices that support the health and well-being of North Carolina's children and families.

Certified employers are:
  • Asheville Area Habitat for Humanity (Buncombe and Madison counties)
  • Charlotte Bilingual Preschool (Charlotte)
  • Child Care Services Association (Chapel Hill and Durham)
  • Children & Family Resource Center (Hendersonville)
  • Computerway Food Systems, Inc. (High Point)
  • Conservation Trust for North Carolina (Raleigh)
  • Investors Management Corporation (Raleigh)
  • North Carolina Early Childhood Foundation (Raleigh)
  • R. Riveter (Southern Pines)
  • Passage Home (Raleigh)
  • Prevent Child Abuse North Carolina (Morrisville)
  • Smart Start of Mecklenburg County (Charlotte)
  • The Health Foundation, Inc. (Wilkes County)
  • Unity Web Agency (RTP)
  • Verner Center for Early Learning (Asheville)
Family Forward NC improves children's health and well-being and keeps North Carolina's businesses competitive by inspiring employer-led change to increase access to research-based, family-friendly practices -- big and small -- that improve workplace productivity, recruitment and retention; grow a strong economy; and support children's healthy development. To date, Family Forward NC has engaged with more than 8,000 employers across North Carolina.

The Family Forward NC Employer Certification, launched in October of 2022, designates employers that offer best-practice policies in one or more of five main areas:
  • paid leave and wages;
  • accommodations for pregnant and breastfeeding workers; 
  • child care;
  • health and wellness benefits; and 
  • scheduling practices.
Family Forward NC defines best-practice policies through:
  • the North Carolina Early Childhood Foundation's Pathways to Grade-Level Reading Measures of Success and Action Frameworks;
  • guidance from medical organizations such as the American Academy of Pediatrics or the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists; and
  • guidance from our partners in early childhood organizations, including the Child Care Services Association, Moms Rising, the North Carolina Breastfeeding Coalition, and others.
Decades of research have established that children need supportive and supported families and communities to build strong brains, along with health and development on track from birth and high-quality birth-through-age eight learning environments with regular attendance.

"For children, our future workforce, there is a critical window of time for brain development during the earliest years of life. In fact, the first 2,000 days of a child's life are so defining that by the time that child turns eight, his or her third-grade reading outcomes can predict future academic achievement and career success," said NCECF Executive Director Muffy Grant.

Family Forward Certified Employers receive access to exclusive programming to support their continued journey toward becoming family-friendly workplaces, along with marketing materials to help them promote their certification and an employee assessment of current policies and practices. Certified employers are also listed as part of the online
Family Forward NC Employer Directory.

"We are pleased and honored to be in the first group of certified Family Forward NC employers," said Heather Murphy, Executive Director of The Health Foundation in Wilkes County. "Our leadership recognizes the importance of stable employment that also ensures that parents have the permissions and supports they need to nurture their children's physical, emotional, and spiritual health. After all, the environments in which we live, work, play, pray and learn have a profound impact on both life expectancy and the quality of that life. The Health Foundation applied for this certification to show we live our values in a human-centered environment that recognizes that changing the world for the better means we better take good care of ourselves."

For more information about Family Forward NC and the Family Forward NC Employer Certification, including an online directory of all certified employers, visit

About the North Carolina Early Childhood Foundation
NCECF works to ensure every N.C. child has a strong foundation for life-long health, education, and well-being supported by a comprehensive, equitable birth-to-eight ecosystem. Thanks to the North Carolina Institute of Medicine, PacWest Bancorp, Truist Foundation and the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services for supporting Family Forward NC.