Family Support Programs
Early Care & Education Programs
The Challenge: The first 2,000 days of a child’s life are the foundation for long-term health and well-being – physically, mentally, and emotionally. And yet, many children experience barriers, both individually and systemically, that put them at a lifelong disadvantage.
How We Help: All children deserve access to high-quality physical and mental health care, early identification of developmental delays and the intervention services necessary to catch them up, and healthy models for good habit formation. Therefore, Smart Start partners with programs that empower parents with information related to brain development and developmental milestones, promote the adoption of innovative, evidence-based therapies by Charlotte providers, and expand access to services and treatments children need to turn five ready to thrive.
Guiding Parents To Services
Guiding Parents to Services (GPS) supports children and their families as they transition from the Children’s Developmental Services Agency (CDSA) at age 3 to potential programming with the Charlotte Mecklenberg Schools Exceptional Children’s program, which targets children in need of special education support. GPS provides navigation, educational, and emotional support during this pivotal time. The goal is to empower families to get the services their child needs.
Sound Beginnings and APPLE A Day
Charlotte Speech and Hearing Center provides an evidence-based, early language intervention program for preschoolers focused on building their skills in early communication, emerging receptive and expressive language. Participating preschools include: The Learning Collaborative, Charlotte Bilingual Preschool, Howard Levine Child Development Center, and selected Bethlehem Center-Early Head Start classrooms
Family Support Programs
The Challenge: All families want their children to succeed, but given the inequities in our society, some families lack the necessary knowledge or resources to raise their young children optimally. Teen parents, adults with poor English literacy, families in poverty, and parents with trauma may need additional support to help them prepare their children for future success. Just as each family is unique, each family’s need is exceptional. Therefore Smart Start partners with a wide range of programs so that all children turn five ready to thrive.
How We Help: We recognize that the responsibility for a family’s success does not rest solely with the family; it is shared with the systems within the community and culture that either help or hinder a family’s ability to succeed. Therefore, Smart Start invests strategically at all levels. This includes our partnerships with local agencies and early childhood experts, our convening work within the community, and on a systems level by identifying the gaps and barriers within our support networks and advocating for change and additional resources.
Child Adult Relationship Enhancement
Family Education Services
Safe Journey’s Parents as Teachers
YMCA Parents as Teachers
The Basics Mecklenburg
The Basics is a public education campaign built on five evidence-based parenting and caregiving principles important for healthy brain development for children from birth to age three. Eighty percent of brain growth happens in the first three years of life, and every child from every background can benefit from routinely engaging in these fun, simple, and powerful learning experiences. The Basics brain development campaign is working through a variety of local partners to ensure that every parent and caregiver is fully supported by family, friends, and the community to use ‘The Basics’ practices in everyday life.
Early Care & Education Programs
The Challenge: In Mecklenburg County, most infants and young children live in families where all caregivers work outside the home. To have peace of mind, families want conveniently located, high-quality care for their young children, delivered by educated professionals at a price that doesn’t break the bank. Yet, too often, families are forced into situations where care is unstable, unaffordable, or of questionable quality.
How We Help: Smart Start recognizes the high cost of poor childcare and invests 80% of its funds accordingly to educate families on how to locate good childcare, to increase access to high-quality childcare for low-income families through subsidies and accessible, high quality pre-school, to offer teacher training, and bonus payments for teachers intent on attaining higher education levels, and on supporting the licensure and safety of childcare centers with technical assistance.
Charlotte Bilingual Preschool
Child Care Health Consultants
Child Care Resources
Early Childhood Teacher Professional Development
MECK Pre-K is a Mecklenburg County-funded program that offers a high-quality Pre-K experience to ensure children are academically and developmentally prepared for kindergarten. Classrooms are located in 4 and 5 star child care centers and children attend a 6.5 hour school day program.
North Carolina Pre-Kindergarten
The Learning Collaborative
The Polliwog Project
The Challenge: Children must learn to read so that they can read to learn. Yet, many families do not realize that language and literacy skills begin early, years before entering kindergarten.
How We Help: Children need daily access to high-quality picture books and a loving adult to share them with, and so Smart Start provides access to engaging children’s books, with practical suggestions for parents, so that caregivers can share them in loving, everyday interactions that expand a child’s understanding of the world.
Raising a Reader
Turn Five Ready to Thrive
Smart Start of Mecklenburg County
601 E. 5th Street, Suite 500
Charlotte, NC 28202