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History of NCLCCA

Our association was originally formed in 1996 as PACE of North Carolina (Professional Association of Childhood Education) and became North Carolina's affiliate of the National Child Care Association.  Linda Hester was the first President of the association, and she served for four years until Bob Greear agreed to take over.

Our founding members were very active and involved in the process of developing the original rated license.  When the proposal first was publicized, the star level that would have been assigned to centers was based on the lower of the three categories (program standards, compliance history, and education).  PACE members, led by Cathy Shular of Smithfield,  fought to make it a composite score, so as to not grade centers on their lowest scoring area.  In fact, Cathy spent several months in the halls of the legislature, doing ONLY that.

Additionally, PACE was instrumental in convincing the Division of Child Development to allow teachers a period of time after they were hired to obtain the NC Early Childhood Credential.  Originally the plan was to include it as a PRE-service requirement.

Over the years, PACE was supported heavily by a handful of strong advocates for the child care industry.  Belvin Smith, of Creative Day School, donated office space and a staff member, Annette Gentry, to be the Executive Director of the association, in addition to continuing to do the work of her parent company.  Smith and Greear, the long-time PACE president, made financial contributions frequently to help the association remain fiscally strong. 

In the fall of 2004, the organization was at a crossroads.  In order to continue to move the association forward, it was decided that we needed to hire a paid, part-time Executive Director!  Three centers (Sunshine House, Childcare Network and Building Blocks) put forth lump sum donations to go toward the first year of the new director's salary.  This was the realization of something that had been anticipated for a long time.

Linda Piper was hired by the Executive Board to officially begin in her role as of November 1, 2004.  At about the same time, the association decided that a name change was in order.  PACE members were spending too much time explaining what PACE stands for, who we represent, and so the decision to become the North Carolina Licensed Child Care Association was made official.  A few months later, the full-service website,, moved from dream to reality!

NCLCCA grew from one part-time executive director in 2004 to two and a half staff members in 2011. In 2016 as we celebrate our 20th anniversary, our team of 9 works hard with a dedicated group of volunteers and leaders to fulfill the NCLCCA mission.

The history of NCLCCA is continuing to be written each and every day.   We hope YOU will be a part of our FUTURE!

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