Smart Start Frequently Asked Questions - FAQs

What is Smart Start?

Smart Start is North Carolina's nationally-recognized initiative to ensure all children enter school healthy and ready to succeed. Smart Start helps working parents pay for child care, improves the quality of child care and provides health and family support services in every North Carolina county.

Is Smart Start just for low-income families?

No. Smart Start works to ensure all children have the skills they need to be successful in school. That could include hearing, dental or developmental screenings, access to higher quality child care and support for families.

How can I enroll my child in a Smart Start center?

Smart Start is not a child care center. Smart Start helps make child care centers better through educational opportunities for child care teachers, reducing teacher turnover, providing resources and educational materials, etc. Smart Start can help you find high quality child care arrangements in your community.

How can I get help paying for child care?

There are two ways to receive help paying for child care: 1. Contact your local Department of Social Services; 2. Contact your local Smart Start Partnership.

What is the difference between Smart Start and Head Start?

Head Start is a federally-funded preschool program that targets low-income 3 and 4 year olds. Smart Start is funded through state and private funds and provides a variety of services for children less than 6 years of age and their families.

What is the difference between Smart Start and More at Four?

Smart Start is a statewide initiative that begins serving young children at birth with high quality child care, health and family support services. Education begins at birth, so it's important to reach children early. More at Four Pre-Kindergarten is a new program specifically targeted to reach four-year-olds at-risk of school failure in a quality preschool classroom.

Is Smart Start working?

YES! Children are more prepared to enter kindergarten than ever before. In fact, research shows that children participating in Smart Start programs have better language skills and fewer behavioral problems when entering kindergarten than children not participating in Smart Start programs.

How are Smart Start funds spent?

Each local Partnership for Children has a board of directors made up of community members that make decisions on how to best meet the needs of the children and families in their community. The majority of Smart Start funds are used to improve the quality of child care and make child care more affordable and accessible for working families. Smart Start funds are also used to support a variety of programs for families as well as health related services for children. To find out about Smart Start services in your community, call your local partnership.

How much state money does Smart Start receive?

Smart Start’s appropriation for 2007-08 is $205.5 million to serve children throughout the state.   Smart Start also raises at least 10% of the appropriation in private cash and in-kind contributions.

How can I get involved?

Your local Smart Start partnership has many ways you can get involved in the community.

I've seen a children's show on television on Saturday mornings called Smart Start Kids. Is Smart Start paying for it?

No. Smart Start Kids is produced by Capitol Broadcasting Company and WRAL-TV. Capitol Broadcasting believes so much in the work of Smart Start that they decided to name its new children's program after it. No state funds are used for the show.