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.