Monthly Archives: August 2009

Dear Governor . . . (Part 2)

Over the next several days, we will be posting letters written by early childhood education supporters in response to our August 26th post. We hope that Governor Perdue is listening.

Dear Governor Purdue-

It was with great dismay that I recently learned that Smart Start was not included in programs exempt from the additional 5% cut in funding you are planning for state programs this year.  As I understand it this would result in an additional $10 million dollars in funding cuts for this program.  I worked with Sue Smith, Stephanie Fanjul, and Governor Hunt in the early nineties to help make Smart Start a reality, and I have seen first hand the positive impact that this program has had on young children and their families all over the state.  I could bore you with a string of facts and numbers about Smart Start’s impact of health, development, and school performance, but let’s just say of all the programs I have been associated with in over 40 years of work in education this is one of the few that deserves to be continued with strong support.  Please consider exempting Smart Start from this additional reduction.  The children of North Carolina are counting on you.

Kindest Regards,

Bruce Yelton

Charlotte, NC

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Dear Governor Perdue . . .

Over the next several days, we will be posting letters written by early childhood education supporters in response to our August 26th post. We hope that Governor Perdue is listening.

Dear Governor Perdue:

I am writing you today to ask that Smart Start be identified and protected as an essential service in North Carolina.  Onslow County is a support community for Camp Lejeune and New River Air Station as you well know.  Our community is one of seven in North Carolina that will see and have seen a significant increase in our population due to the influx of troops and dependants.  Seventy-five percent of our children ages 0-5 are active duty military dependents.  Every service our agency provides impacts military children.  To cut Smart Start further means that you continue to cut services to active duty military children.

by usag.yongsan

by usag.yongsan

As you are well aware, child care keeps parents working and it is hard to imagine that our troops, who defend our country, are left wondering who is going to keep their children while they are working.  For profit child cares and the Department of Defense are working diligently to increase the availability of child care slots but our population is growing faster than they are able to build.  Currently, our child care facilities, including the Department of Defense facilities, are at maximum capacity and we are still left with a significant population we are unable to serve.  This issue will only be amplified as more troops and their families are relocated to our area.

Furthermore, as the industry grows in our area we are facing another challenge and that is the lack of a child care workforce.  With the projected child care facility growth we anticipate within the next three years, Onslow County will need to expand our child care workforce by 47.9%.  The Onslow County Partnership for Children works closely with community leaders to keep child care in the forefront of everyone’s minds but we can only do so much and our Smart Start funds play a vital role in the success of our economic future. 

Another economic impact Smart Start has for Onslow County is the child care subsidy that assists low-income families with paying for child care tuition so they may remain employed. This type of assistance has an economic impact both indirectly and induced. An example of an indirect effect of child care subsidy is from child care centers making purchases. The induced effect is from the child care workforce spending wages. Both of which generate revenue for North Carolina.

In closing, I am asking that you protect Smart Start funding.  Smart Start has produced a significant return on investment for North Carolina and we cannot withstand more cuts and reversions.  I look forward to your reply. 

Sincerely, 

Dawn Rochelle

Executive Director, Onslow County Partnership for Children

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Protecting Education Begins at Birth

The young children of North Carolina are desperately waiting for the Governor to notice them. Her neglect will not just be devastating for the more than 742,232 children five and under and their families. It puts every North Carolinian at risk.

The same rationale that applies to protecting K-12 education, applies to protecting early childhood education. There is so much science on this, it’s hard to figure out where to begin to show how critical these early years are. Today’s children are our future leaders, parents and workers. Our state’s prosperity depends on their healthy development and growth. The key to ensuring that healthy development and growth is early childhood experiences.

Yet these experiences are being threatened. All around the state, children and families rely on Smart Start to ensure that their early childhood programs are of high quality and safe, that they have programs available to them to support parenting (particularly important in times of stress), that they have access to needed health care, and more. Unfortunately, all of these children and families will see these services cut back again.

Yes, we know cuts are necessary. But so are priorities. We at Smart Start accepted our $15,965,000 (7.62%) recurring cut this year because we know we must all do our part. But the Governor has potentially added another 5% cut on top of that. IF this additional 5% nonrecurring reduction is applied to Smart Start it will result in a total annual reduction of $25,647,892 (12.2%).

In her announcement of the cut, the Governor said:

 “Special exceptions may be made for constitutionally mandated or entitlement programs as well as urgent situations related to direct classroom instruction, economic development opportunities, law enforcement, health care and public safety.”

Clearly early childhood education is related to success in school, is part of economic development, and is essential for the economic recovery for North Carolina. She has made special exceptions for other programs that she deems important and she should make an exception for Smart Start as well.

Please call, email, and fax the Governor immediately and let her know that Smart Start should be exempt from this additional cut. This is the Governor who claimed to be the “mother of Smart Start”. We need to help her remember that Smart Start is essential to NC’s recovery.

The Governor’s number is 919-733-4240, her office email is governor.office@nc.gov, and her fax is 919-733-2120.

Thanks for making these calls and speaking up on behalf of children.

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Everyday Activities Help Children Prepare Developmentally and Socially for Kindergarten

A recent MSNBC article shows the pressure some parents feel to make sure their kids succeed in kindergarten. But hiring a tutor is going to extremes.

“School readiness is not about a 5-year-old walking into kindergarten knowing how to read and add. Those kinds of expectations put undue stress on parents and can overwhelm children,” says Gerry Cobb, Director of Smart Start’s National Technical Assistance Center. “What children really need to know are some basic social skills, how to take care of themselves and how to express their needs. Talking to your child about what to expect can also ease their anxiety and make the experience a positive one.”

Smart Start, North Carolina’s nationally-recognized early childhood initiative, offers a guide to help parents prepare their 3 to 5-year-olds to start school. “Ready, Set, Go: A Journey to Kindergarten Calendar” is a calendar-style guide showing how to turn everyday activities like baking, going to the park or visiting the library into learning opportunities for children. It also has practical tips such as making sure a child knows his name and phone number, can use the toilet, knows how to wash his or her hands and uses the buddy system when riding the bus. This is recommended reading for any parent with a preschool-age child.

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Teen Parenting Programs Important Part of Early Childhood System

The excerpted letter below illustrates one of the many ways that North Carolina’s early childhood system improves the lives of young children and their families. Please share your stories.

My name is Ishmael Quick, a teen father participating in the Teens N Tots Program for almost a year now.

The future of our society depends on the children of today; caring for them now is the best way to ensure future success. All that we give to them will be given back. Teen N Tots is a service funded by Smart Start that ensures young teenage parents have the skills necessary to enable their child to reach their full potential.

I came to Teens N Tots through a referral from social worker at the hospital. I take pride in being one of the few teen dads in Teens N Tots because I feel like I get to set a bar for other teen dads. Anyone can be a father but it takes a real man to be a dad. I get a satisfaction like no other knowing that my son knows who daddy is. Along with learning to be a better father, I also needed a good social support system and found exactly that with this program. I could only imagine the difficulties I would face alone without their support. I am working hard to support my family and am pursuing a career in the military. Thank you for every bit of time and money that has been given. It goes to someone who needs it to help to make my family whole.

At this time, this program is the only teen parenting program in Cumberland County and serves over 100 teen parents; there is no other program that works specifically with teenage parents and their families. My child and I have benefited greatly from this program and would greatly affect me and others like myself if it ended.

Being a teen parent could have been the end of the world for me but Teens N Tots turned it into a new beginning.
Sincerely,
Ishmael Quick

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NC Budget Proposal Cuts Smart Start By $16 Million

Legislators have given preliminary approval to a proposed state budget, which suggests reducing funding for Smart Start by $16 Million. Early education advocates fought hard to keep the figure relatively low, considering that only a month ago the figure swelled as high as an unreasonable $28.2 million. Still, those who understand the value of early education cannot call this a victory. Any cut to children’s early education hurts families in the present and can have lasting consequences for our state’s future.

What’s at stake?

  • North Carolina’s future prosperity. Investments in young children are one of the strongest investments for sustained growth and job creation.
  • The healthy mental development of our children. The brain of a child who has had positive early childhood experiences looks different from one who has not. The structure and wiring are visibly and significantly different.
  • The state’s future economy. North Carolina will pay more for children requiring special education and more for adults who are under-employable, unemployable, or incarcerated.

Jack P. Shonkoff, M.D., discussion on the science of brain development and neuroscience at the Leadership Forum on Preparing North Carolina for a Prosperous Future. To learn more about how children’s brains develop in the early years, which can affect all future learning, view other presentations at the Smart Start YouTube channel

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