The future of any society depends on its ability to foster the health and well-being of the next generation. A child with a solid foundation grows into a responsible and productive citizen. To ensure this solid foundation, we begin with high-quality early childhood experiences. We begin with Smart Start.
Smart Start was created by the NC General Assembly in 1993 in response to how neuroscience changed our understanding of the brain’s development in the earliest years. Images of the brain show that the experiences children have early in life literally shape the wiring of the brain and strongly affect whether a child grows up to be a healthy, productive member of society.
The Mitchell-Yancey Partnership for Children was created in 1998. We are an independent, nonprofit organization, with a Board of Directors made up of local community members. The Board determines how best to invest local Smart Start funding to support programs designed to address community concerns in early care and education, the health of young children, and services for their families.
Smart Start dollars provide the basic fiscal and administrative framework that allows us to bring other funding into our counties. The private sector participates in our work through donations, grants and volunteer efforts. Because of Smart Start, the Mitchell-Yancey Partnership for Children (MYPFC) has been able to collaborate with the Dollywood Foundation to bring the Imagination Library to the youngest citizens in our community. Because of Smart Start, MYPFC has been awarded grants from the NC Blue Cross Blue Shield Foundation to support outdoor learning environments in local child care centers. In 2012-13, MYPFC continued to exceed the required 13% match of Smart Start funds from non-state sources, as we have every year. Through this effective public-private partnership, more than $89,275 was contributed by the private sector in the last year, with over $910,000 across the last decade to support services for young children in Yancey and Mitchell counties.
The Mitchell-Yancey Partnership for Children is an excellent steward of these public and private funds. Auditors continue to give our organization a “clean bill” of financial health, with no findings or issues of non-compliance reported in the 20 years of MYPFC’s existence.
Since June 2001, Smart Start has used independent data from state and federal sources to understand how North Carolina’s children are faring. Smart Start reports on child well-being in each county across the state as part of a performance-based evaluation system.
Below is a selection of results achieved:
- Parents of 26 children in Mitchell County from low-income families received subsidies to enroll their children in high quality (4- and 5-star) child care programs through Smart Start. This funding prevented these children from being placed on a wait list for services.
- 94% of Yancey County children with special needs who are from low-income families receiving subsidized care were placed in high quality (4- and 5-star) child care programs.
- 32 teachers participated in programs designed to support their educational pursuits at the college level, allowing them to continue to provide high quality, stable care for 370 young children. The turnover rate for these teachers is 13%, compared to 31% in 1998.
- Through the Imagination Library, nearly 1000 local children receive free, age-appropriate books in the mail every month. Over 71,000 books have been distributed to our local children since 2006 through this project, which is completely funded through grants, fundraisers and private donations.
- Last year, nearly 2,270 visits were made to the Partnership’s Family Resource Library (by both teachers and parents), and 3,748 educational items were checked out.