Smart Start Education

Smart Start Education, founded in 1993, is an initiative in North Carolina. Its primary aim is to ensure that young children are healthy and ready for success in school.

To achieve this, Smart Start provides funding to local non-profit organizations across the state.

The funding supports various areas, including child care, efforts to reduce child care costs, access to health services, and family support.

In the fiscal year 2019-2020, Smart Start had a budget of around $151 million, with at least 10% of the funding raised through private sources.

The program operates within specific guidelines, and statutory limitations restrict administrative costs to 8%.

Smart Start Education & North Carolina Partnership for Children - NCPC
Image: NCPC

Background Of Smart Start Education (SSE)

The Smart Start program was established in the early 1990s in response to research highlighting the crucial impact of early experiences on children’s development.

North Carolina Governor Jim Hunt signed the program into law in July 1993.

The program aims to provide every child with a strong foundation for future success.

Smart Start allocates funding to local communities, enabling them to create and implement early childhood programs that cater to the specific needs of children and families.

The program also offers technical support and training to assist communities in developing effective initiatives.

The program has achieved considerable success since its inception.

Notably, there has been a significant increase in the percentage of North Carolina children deemed ready for school.

Moreover, Smart Start has played a vital role in enhancing the quality of early care and education across the state.

By prioritizing early childhood development, the Smart Start program contributes significantly to ensuring that all children in North Carolina have the opportunity to thrive academically and in life as a whole.

Objectives of SSE

  • Ensure that all children enter school healthy and prepared to succeed: Access to high-quality early care and education, as well as health and nutrition services, is essential for children.

Providing children with these resources is crucial.

  • Build a strong foundation for a high-quality early childhood system in North Carolina: The initiative involves creating and executing a comprehensive, coordinated, and accountable statewide system of early childhood services.
  • Support families in their role as primary providers, nurturers, and teachers of their children.

How Is SSE Funded ?

The Smart Start Education program, administered by the North Carolina Partnership for Children, receives funding from state and federal sources.

Its goal is to enhance the well-being of children and families in North Carolina.

Since its establishment in 1993, the Smart Start Education program has successfully achieved its objectives.

Furthermore, it has been instrumental in improving the quality of early care and education across the state.

The Smart Start Education program plays a crucial role in ensuring that every child in North Carolina has the opportunity to thrive academically and in life.

How Smart Start Education is helping children and families

SSE is transforming the lives of children and families in North Carolina through its comprehensive program.

By providing vital support, the program guarantees that every child has an equal chance to excel academically and in their overall life journey.

  • Early care and education: Smart Start offers financial aid to assist low-income families in paying for early care and education, ensuring equal access to high-quality early learning for all children, regardless of their family’s income.
  • Family support: Smart Start offers information, education, and support to families.

The organization assists families in acquiring knowledge about child development, parenting skills, and accessing community resources.

  • Health and nutrition: It actively provides health and nutrition services to children and families.

The organization ensures that children have access to essential well-child care, immunizations, and nutritious food.

They prioritize the well-being of both children and families by offering these vital services.

Key Accomplishments Of Smart Start Education

  • The percentage of children in North Carolina who are ready for school has increased from 40% in 1993 to 70% in 2019.
  • The quality of early care and education in North Carolina has improved significantly.
  • The number of children enrolled in early care and education has increased by more than 50%.
  • The cost of child care has decreased for low-income families.
  • Families have access to a wider range of early childhood services.
  • The Smart Start program has been recognized as a model for other states.