Initiative to encourage investment in early childhood programs
On Tuesday, June 12, parents, business leaders, faith community leaders and Region A Partnership for Children board members traveled to the North Carolina General Assembly as part of Smart Start’s statewide “Tuesdays for Tots” initiative. The constituents met with the Region A legislative delegation and asked members to restore funding to Smart Start. In 2011, Smart Start funding was reduced by 20 percent ($37.6 million), disproportionately more than any other component of the education system. As a result, thousands of children are no longer benefiting from much-needed early childhood programs, according to Region A Partnership for Children.
“There are only 2,000 days between the time a baby is born and when that child shows up for the first day of kindergarten,” said Larry Hinton, Region A Partnership for Children Board Chair. “We met with legislators to discuss the needs of children in our communities, the science that supports programs like Smart Start, and why investing in our youngest citizens is a wise investment for families, our state’s economy and our society as a whole.
“State funding for Smart Start has been cut by $80 million over the last decade. These cuts are occurring at the same time that economists, military leaders, law enforcement and business leaders are advocating that investments in young children are one of the strongest investments for sustained growth and job creation, protecting our national security, and providing children with the opportunity to reach their potential,” said Hinton.
Smart Start is a network of 77 nonprofit local partnerships led by a state-level organization, The North Carolina Partnership for Children, Inc. working together to measurably increase the health and well-being of young children by improving children’s early care and education programs to provide opportunities for children to learn skills they need for success in school, providing parents with tools that support them in raising healthy, happy, successful children and by ensuring that children have access to preventative health care.
Local residents traveling to the North Carolina General Assembly included Rev. Ken Curtis and his daughter Maggie and Larry Hinton from Sylva as well as Heather and Ed Reed of Waynesville. The delegation met with Sen. Jim Davis, Rep. Phil Haire, Rep. Ray Rapp and Rep. Roger West.
About Region A Partnership for Children
The Region A Partnership for Children administers North Carolina’s Smart Start and NC Pre-K initiatives in the seven westernmost counties of the state and on the Qualla Boundary. The overall goal of the Partnership is to ensure that all children arrive at school healthy and prepared to succeed.