Monthly Archives: June 2010

NC Early Childhood Cuts Kept to a Minimum

First, thanks to all of you who work tirelessly on behalf of the young children in your communities—you made sure that your voices were heard in the legislative halls of the General Assembly and in the Governor’s mansion. And they were heard!

Here’s the budget as it relates to early childhood education:

  • Smart Start. A cut of 2.5%. ($5,000,000)!
  • More at Four.No cut. Replaces on a one-time basis, General Fund appropriations for More at Four, replaced with TANF funds. ($30,559,012) .
  • Child Care Subsidy. A one-time cut replaced by TANF funds. ($23,625,329)

 

Now is the time to say thank you, thank you, thank you! Call and fax the Governor’s office and your elected officials. They did their best to protect our state’s young children, and we need to let them know how appreciative we are.

More details will be forthcoming. The House and Senate will vote on the budget Conference Report today, June 29, and tomorrow, June 30. Tomorrow after the vote, the report will be hand delivered to the Governor for her signature.

Go to www.ncleg.net to see the final budget. Home page under NEW.

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Filed under budget, Early Childhood, Legislative and Governmental, Uncategorized

Sec. Duncan’s Early Learning Tour

Earlier this year, Arne Duncan, U.S. Secretary of Education, announced a Listening and Learning About Early Learning Tour. Four meetings were held, which focused on:

  • Understanding Preschool – Grade 3 Structures,
  • Workforce and Professional Development,
  • Family Engagement, and
  • Standards and Assessments.

The presentations are now available online. In addition, several groups submitted written testimony on each of the topics. Smart Start’s comments on Workforce and Professional Development also are available online.

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Filed under Early Childhood, Legislative and Governmental, Uncategorized

Smart Start Launches New Website

Smart Start has launched a new website! It’s a space that provides opportunities to learn and share, read and post . . . in other words a place to engage one another on early childhood issues. Please take some time to explore the new site, then let us know what you think. It’s your site, so complete the survey and tell Smart Start what works and what needs work!

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State Dollars Invested in Smart Start Leverage Significant Private Funds for NC Children

Smart Start programs improve child health, family support, and access to high quality child care and education. They also leverage additional funds for North Carolina’s young children. Sadly, Senate budget writers cut almost all of Smart Start’s funds devoted to improving child health—programs that help ensure children develop into healthy, productive adults. These programs also leverage significant private dollars for counties across the state. The early childhood community is calling on members of the Budget Conference Committee to strike this provision.

Smart Start leverages State funds to bring significant private dollars to communities across the state!

  • $4,500 in state funds leveraged $145,000 in private funds in Nash and Edgecombe Counties for early childhood obesity prevention.
  • $2,100 of state funds leveraged $40,000 in private funds in Randolph County for mental health services.
  • $26,372 in state funds leveraged $117,768 in private funds in Craven, Lenoir, Greene, and Pamlico Counties to help pediatricians provide developmental screenings.
  • $63,000 in state funds leveraged $75,000 in private funds in Wilkes County for home visiting programs for high-risk mothers.
  • $92,595 in state funds leveraged $105,261 in private funds in Wake County to promote and support breastfeeding.

If the Senate Budget is implemented, programs that ensure children receive developmental screenings, reduce childhood obesity, and screen premature infants for early intervention will disappear. The Senate budget puts children in jeopardy.

Smart Start health programs help children to grow into healthy and productive adults!

  • The Mecklenburg Smart Start Presbyterian Hospital Early Childhood Intervention has doubled the number of premature and medically fragile infants referred for early intervention, allowing families to connect with other services before they leave the hospital.
  • In Orange County, without Smart Start’s Early Childhood Mental Health Initiative, some of the most disadvantaged children in the county, those facing poverty, domestic violence or child maltreatment for example, will have no place to turn for mental health services. This is critical as science shows that children experiencing toxic stress have lasting, neurobiological effect on young children.
  • In Cleveland County, 93 percent of preschoolers are Medicaid-eligible for dental services. However, Medicaid does not cover oral hygiene education for children and parents, and without Smart Start’s Access to Dental Care activity these families would not be able to take the steps necessary to prevent dental problems from developing in the first place.
  • In Cumberland County, the local partnership helps families with children with autism connect to the resources they need. They currently provide 73 families with services that are not reimbursable through any other source.
  • In Mitchell and Yancey Counties, the partnership funds a Kid Check Coordinator who provides children with hearing, vision and developmental screenings.

This is not an appropriate role for the General Assembly. Local communities need to decide how to handle funding cuts. This cut will eliminate almost all of the health projects Smart Start presently funds.

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Filed under budget, Early Childhood, Health, Uncategorized

North Carolina Moms Urge Legislators to Build a Strong Foundation for Children

North Carolina moms and children will build a giant tower out of children’s building blocks outside the Legislative Building before delivering individual blocks with messages attached to lawmakers working on the state budget, urging them to build a strong foundation for North Carolina children:

10:00 AM, Tuesday, June 15
Portico of the North Carolina Legislative Building
W. Lane Street between N. Salisbury and N. Williams St
Raleigh, North Carolina

The block tower will spell out “Build Our Future,” and each block delivered will have a note attached from a North Carolina parent urging legislators to protect programs that give children a great start and a solid foundation, like Smart Start, NC Health Choice, and infant mortality prevention programs. MomsRising, the online and on-the-ground grassroots organization for moms and everyone who has a mom, generated the messages through e-outreaches to its North Carolina members.

In the upcoming closed-door negotiations, North Carolina legislators will be considering proposals to cut the budget for several children’s programs, including Smart Start and NC Health Choice. MomsRising and its allies are urging the legislature to continue funding those programs which are so critical to helping children get a good start in life.

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Lack of child care subsidy in NC keeps parents from working

This letter was sent to Senator Goss on June 9th. He replied immediately and showed support for more subsidy funding.

Dear Senator Goss,

Things are getting to a desperate state in Wilkes County, we have parents who have finally found a job but since April 1st there is a freeze on subsidized childcare funds, so they are not able put their children in child care. We have available childcare slots but no way to help parents pay for their child care. The department of Social Services will not start taking children off the waiting list as they are concerned they will not have enough funds for the children who are being served.

 Please remember how subsidized childcare is tied into economic recovery…. Without children in our existing child care sites they will close and there will be no childcare when we do recover, and the parents who need help with their childcare bill will quit their jobs . We have had parents crying on the phone and having to quit new jobs since there is a waiting list for subsidized child care.

Summer care is also at a crisis state as there is a waiting list for subsidy so families are resorting to children staying at home alone. Smart Start is working hard to provide scholarships for childcare with fundraising and donations. We are training high schools students in CPR and First Aid for free to get some qualified child care sitters in the community since we no longer have 4-H providing child care on site of our local elementary schools.

Wilkes Smart Start Board of Directors has always had the priority of supporting parents working and subsidized childcare is our foundation for this. I appreciate your continued support with this critical issue.

Laura Welborn

Executive Director Wilkes Smart Start

 1006 F. Street North

Wilkesboro, NC 28659

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Healthy Children Lobby Day

SAVE THE DATE – June 9, 2010

During this time of economic hardship, we must pull together and advocate for the fundamental programs that keep our children healthy. Please join The Covenant with North Carolina’s Children on June 9th for a day of action to promote children’s health in the General Assembly. We’ll call on our state leaders to maintain funding for critical children’s health services, including NC Health Choice and Infant Mortality Prevention.

When: Wednesday, June 9, 8:30 AM – 2:00 PM

Where: Legislative Portico (outside, on the back of the legislative building next to the bridge)

Why:  When economic times are tough, the state has a responsibility to protect the health and safety of the most vulnerable and to focus on what works. The General Assembly needs to prioritize the health of North Carolina’s children by funding:

  • Critical, proven infant mortality prevention programs, and
  •  Health Choice, the state’s successful children’s health insurance program

Support Funding to Prevent Infant Deaths
In 1988, North Carolina had the worst infant mortality rate in the country at 12.6 deaths for every 1,000 births. In response, the Governor and legislature put into place a variety of measures that helped to reduce the mortality rate by 35 percent over the next two decades. Unfortunately, decisions made over the past year have dismantled many of these successful programs. The General Assembly needs to preserve the remaining mortality reduction programs.

Insure More Children
Since 1998, N.C. Health Choice has been providing access to high-quality health care for children in low-income working families. Over 130,000 children are currently enrolled. The rapid and drastic loss of employer-based coverage, however, coupled with job loss from the recession, means that the need is increasing faster now than ever. There are currently more than 100,000 children eligible but not enrolled. Raising the enrollment cap will allow N.C. to:

  • Cover 8,000 more children: If the Legislature approved the Governor’s proposed $8.5 million expansion to Health Choice, the state could enroll an estimated 8,000 more children at a time when the need is great for many North Carolina families. North Carolina has experienced the 4th largest percentage drop in employer-based health insurance coverage since 2000.
  • Receive $25.5 million in federal funds. Each state dollar brings in three federal dollars to provide access to health care for our children, providing an important boost to North Carolina’s struggling economy. This means an additional $25.5M in federal funding, along with the proposed $8.5M increase at the state level, would go towards providing health care for North Carolina’s children.
  • Add jobs and improve the economy. If funding were increased by $8.5M, an estimated 300 jobs would be created in N.C., generating an estimated $12M in salary and wage increases. The total amount of business activity generated by the additional spending for children’s health insurance is estimated at more than $30M[1].

Healthy Children are North Carolina’s Future
A strong workforce and a vibrant economy are contingent on ensuring that all our state’s children have the opportunity to grow and thrive. North Carolina has made great strides in insuring children and decreasing unnecessary infant deaths. Critical and timely investments are needed now to maintain these successes and ensure that children’s health, and our state’s long-term economic prospects, are not harmed.

This event is sponsored by the Covenant with North Carolina’s Children and Action for Children NC. Please RSVP to Margaret@nccovenant.org.

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