Monthly Archives: May 2011

An Open Letter to the NC State Legislature

Smart Start’s 77 local partnerships signed an Open Letter to the NC State Legislature supporting the critical role of The North Carolina Partnership for Children, Inc. in Smart Start’s success.
Download the letter with signatures.

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Governor Says Proposed Early Childhood Cuts Too Deep

Gov. Bev Perdue sent a letter to House Speaker Thom Tillis and Senate leader Phil Berger outlining objections to legislative budget proposals.

Read the entire letter.

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North Carolina Lt. Gov. Walter Dalton Sends Smart Start Call to Action

North Carolina Lt. Governor Walter Dalton has long been a supporter of Smart Start, travelling across the state to learn firsthand how the program benefits families and communities. In his latest newsletter, he puts out a call to action asking Smart Start supporters to call their legislators and protect the award-winning program. Below is a portion of his newsletter.

As the General Assembly considers their proposed state budget, I have been speaking out in support of Smart Start, the state’s award-winning early childhood program using public-private partnerships. I held forums in Greensboro and Durham and met with parents, child care providers, and business leaders to hear how Smart Start is positively impacting these communities and our state.

In 1993, Governor Jim Hunt and the General Assembly had the vision to create Smart Start, which provides education, health services, and family support to children in all 100 counties. In 18 years, the program has helped hundreds of thousands of children and families in North Carolina.

This year, some members of the General Assembly have proposed severely cutting funding for – or even eliminating – Smart Start. The House budget calls for a $37 million reduction in funding for Smart Start (20% of its state funding) and the proposed Senate budget goes even further by cutting the public-private partnership that administers the program. These cuts would jeopardize North Carolina’s continued success in economic development and job recruitment and hurt our children’s future.

One of the reasons Smart Start has been so successful is its establishment as a public-private partnership outside of government bureaucracy. Backed by the state’s top business leaders, it not only harnesses taxpayer funds, but it also leverages private funding.

I understand that we are facing unprecedented budget difficulties. However, it would be very short-sighted for North Carolina to threaten our future economic success and each child’s personal success by inordinate cuts to such a successful and productive program. If properly funded, our state’s investment in early childhood education will yield an extraordinary return that will pay decades’ worth of dividends.

Take Action: contact your Senator and Representative and urge them to protect Smart Start!

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Military Support Liaison Says Military Families Rely on Smart Start

“Military families are geographically separated from the support systems that may be in place in their hometowns. These supports include: grandparents, relatives, friends, and neighbors. Smart Start has helped military families develop support systems in the military communities by leveraging resources, empowering young and new parents, educating early child care providers, and by embracing these “families away from home” as their own. It is appalling that a state which claims to be the most military friendly would allow for such a disservice.

Speak up North Carolina!! Take a stand for the families who sacrifice while their loved one serves. Take a stand for the child who naps at a quality child care facility with a pillow of a loved one in uniform printed on the pillow case. Take a stand for the young military families who contribute and support their adopted communities, even during times of tremendous strain. North Carolinians know that Military Children serve too!”

-Shannon Shurko, Miliatry Support Liaison, Cumberland County Schools, (and military wife and mother)

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The Committee for Economic Development Says Proposed Senate Changes to Smart Start “Do Not Make Good Business Sense”

Charles Kolb, president of the non-partisan, business-led Committee for Economic Development in Washington, DC, drafted a letter in reaction to North Carolina’s proposed senate budget, which would dismantle Smart Start. Below is a portion of the letter:

“Given North Carolina’s leadership, I am surprised to read of proposals now coming from your State Senate to eliminate funding for the North Carolina Partnership for Children and to cut substantially administrative and program funding for local-level Smart Start partnerships.  That just does not make good economic sense. Why tamper with a model that works? If you don’t believe what you hear from other states, listen to your own Duke University where officials there affirmed earlier this year that Smart Start is making a difference.

Almost all our states face tight budgets. They have to make choices and set priorities– just like households and businesses. But investing in our children really is a business issue. We need workers. We need child care for workers. We need education for our future workers. We want educated citizens who can sustain our democracy. North Carolina legislators must not be pennywise and pound foolish. Funding for Smart Start is an investment in the short- and long-term future of North Carolina and our country. A significant cut in or elimination of Smart Start and the state and local partnership infrastructure that sustains these programs makes absolutely no sense at all and is definitely not good business sense.”

Read the full letter here,Committee for Economic Development Response to Proposed Dismantling of Smart Start.

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NC Senate Dismantles Smart Start

Statement on the Senate HHS Budget Proposal by Dr. Olson Huff, Board Chair of The North Carolina Partnership for Children, Inc.

 “I fear for the well-being of the children of our state. In one fell swoop, the Senate Health and Human Services Appropriations Committee announced a plan to destroy years of early childhood progress that has raised third grade outcomes and given thousands of children an opportunity to succeed.  

In an elaborate shell game that claims savings without really doing so, the committee effectively killed the state’s nationally recognized early childhood system, Smart Start.

Abolishing Smart Start is the wrong direction to go on education. You can’t get older children to perform in school by taking resources from younger children — at the very time that their brains are being hard-wired to learn. 

Earlier this year a Duke University study showed that all North Carolina third-graders have higher standardized reading and math scores and lower special education placement rates in counties that received more funding for Smart Start when those children were younger. What’s more, they found that Smart Start raises the academic achievement of all children in a community, whether they were in child care or not.

The Senate’s proposal to rob the state of this vital program is poor education policy and poor economic policy. This is hardly a growth strategy for our state.  The state’s youngest children are taking the hardest hit.”

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North Carolinians Speak Out in Support of Smart Start

North Carolinians support investments in early childhood education. The comments below are from postcards that have been delivered to North Carolina legislators.

Early childhood education is important to North Carolina because:

“Government, like families, should make the right kind of investments and sacrifices to meet the needs of our children. Our welfare as a society depends on it. Our state will lose economic productivity and competitiveness if we do not ensure high quality education and health for our children now. We cannot plow under the seedling and expect a harvest.”

Deborah D., Chapel Hill

“Children are an investment in our future. I work with early educators who are seeking to further their knowledge and education to better serve the children of NC. This program, however, is being cut. This results in less support and assistance for early educators. My position is being eliminated. This impacts not just educators, but also my family. I’m a single mother of two boys.”

-Jennifer, Western NC

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