What is Smart Start?
Smart Start is a comprehensive public-private initiative to help all North Carolina children enter school healthy and ready to succeed. Smart Start programs and services provide children under the age of six access to high-quality and affordable child care, health care and family support services. Smart Start was launched in 1993 by former Governor Jim Hunt, and is the only program of its kind, because it is a comprehensive approach to preparing children for school. Local partnerships determine programs and services that best meet local needs. Smart Start brings together all the people involved in a young child’s life—families, teachers, doctors, caregivers, social workers, and many others—to ensure every child has access to the resources they need for healthy growth and development.
How do we use our Smart Start funding to impact children and families in Cleveland County?
Cleveland County Partnership for Children (CCPFC) invests Smart Start Funds to help eligible families access child care subsidies through Cleveland County Social Services. We also provide resources to our local Child Care Resource and Referral Office, Child Care Connections (CCC). CCC educates families about quality child care, informs them of available child care, and works with child care directors and teachers to sustain and increase the quality of child care services.
To encourage and support continued education for eligible child care professionals, CCPFC also allocates Smart Start resources to provide a salary supplement to childcare workers through the WAGES Program.
Why is this so important to our community?
Our goal is to listen to the needs of our community and allocate our funding to meet those needs. In Cleveland County, we have selected to implement the following activities:
Subsidized tuition for families and children in four and five star rated facilities so parents can work and rest assured their children are well taken care of
Inclusive preschool classrooms in the public school setting
Child care referral services for families of children ages birth through 5 seeking high quality child care
Support for the child care industry: professional training, education programs, support for recruiting and retaining personnel, technical assistance to child care facility owners in maintaining and/or achieving higher levels of licensure through sustainability grants, wage supplements and education bonuses
Community awareness and information regarding early childhood issues
Literacy awareness and school readiness, including free books to all children up to five years of age