The Earliest Years of Childhood are Critical.

Experiences during this time literally shape the structure
of the brain. Because today’s children are tomorrow’s leaders,
parents and workers, everyone has a stake in making sure that
all children have the experiences they need to thrive.

Research on Brain Development is Changing
How We Think About the Early Years

and in turn influencing our views of parenting.
It has produced new insights on interacting with
a child, managing behavior and preparing children
to enter school healthy and ready to learn.

2016-2017 Annual Report

The North Carolina Partnership for Children, Inc., has released the annual report for 2016-2017. This year’s report really highlights the great work of our local partnerships in their communities and what that means for the children and families of North Carolina.

Smart Start Is...

kids at a cc centerA top priority for Smart Start is increasing the quality of early care and education across the state. The goal is to promote high quality early care that is child-focused, family-friendly and fair to providers. For years, Smart Start subsidy funds have been used to increase the quality of early child care and education in the state.

  • The percentage of children in 4 and 5 star programs increased from 33 percent in 2001 to 74 percent in 2016.
  • The average star rating for children receiving subsidized care increased from 2.68 in 2001 to 4.46 stars in 2016.

Smart Start partnerships manage subsidy funds within their communities to continue to improve early care and education across the state… LEARN MORE

Research on brain development is changing how we think about the early years. It has produced new insights on interacting with a child, managing behavior and preparing children to enter school healthy and ready to learn. Smart Start offers family-focused programs that improve parenting and promote involvement. Parent education programs give parents tools to increase their knowledge of early childhood development and positive parenting practices, and home visiting programs help new parents and parents-to-be by providing education, information and resources. These programs include:

  • Incredible Years is an evidence-based program that works to provide parents with appropriate expectations for their children’s behavior.
  • Parents as Teachers is an evidence-based program that provides the information, support and encouragement parents need to help their children develop optimally during the early years of life.

In the last fiscal year, these programs accomplished the following:

  • Parents participating in the Incredible Years program reported a statistically significant decrease in the frequency with which their child displays problem behaviors, as well as a significant decrease in the number of behaviors that are a problem for the parent.
  • 84% of eligible children participating in Parents as Teachers received a developmental and health screening. PAT promotes that all enrolled children have a primary medical home and this includes screenings at medical homes).
  • 62 % of families participating in Parents as Teachers were linked with more than one community resource.


Healthy behavior patterns established early in life often lead to lifelong benefits and decreased probability of serious disease later in life. Smart Start strives to improve outcomes for children by increasing young children’s access to healthcare and by working with providers, health departments, families, and communities to improve the health and safety for young children, prevent childhood obesity, and ensure that more children are screened for developmental delays and referred to services for help before they start school.

In the last fiscal year, these programs accomplished the following:

  • Child care centers participating in Shape NC displayed quick improvements in the use of best practices related to physical activity and nutrition.  Across the 18 participating centers:
    • All participating centers improved their use of 86 best practicesrelated to physical activity and nutrition during the year.
    • Those centers that started in the second year of the grant doubled the number of best practices they were using during the year, increasing from 31% to 63% by the end of the second year.  Centers starting in the first year were up to 74% of best practices in use by the end of the second year, compared to 49%.
    • Increasing the number of best practices in place resulted in many improvements for children during the year. For example, the percent of  children who were provided:
      • 90 minutes or more of daily physical activity increased from 14 percent to 72 percent in year two centers and 87 percent to 100 percent in year one centers.
      • Fruit two or more times per day increased from 9% to 54%in year two centers and 57% to 100% in year one centers.
  • 40 medical practices with a total of 239 medical providers, participated in ABCD in the fiscal year 2013. These practices served 36,079 children and 57%of these children received Medicaid.
  • 2,447 child care facilities received child health consultation services funded by Smart Start. This is an increase from 2,303 in the prior fiscal year.


Over the past three years, Smart Start has significantly expanded early literacy programs. Literacy affects our state’s ability to create a workforce needed to compete in the global market and ensure our future prosperity. Recognizing that over 90% of language development occurs in the first few years of life, Smart Start provides programs that develop early literacy skills needed for success in school, work and life. Smart Start brings proven, national programs to the children and families of North Carolina. These programs assist parents in developing habits of daily reading with their children, and assist children in discovering an early love of reading.

  • Reach Out and Read supports doctors in their efforts to “prescribe” reading to young children and families during well-child visits through early literacy guidance.
  • Raising a Reader rotates bright red bags filled with award-winning books in children’s homes on a weekly basis, exposing children to over 100 books per cycle.
  • Motheread/Fatheread combines the teaching of parent literacy skills with child development and family support.
  • Dolly Parton Imagination Library provides a free, age appropriate book each month to children age birth to 5.

In fiscal year 2013, the following significant accomplishments were a result of Smart Start early literacy efforts:

  • Smart Start served over 20,000 children through Reach Out and Read (ROR).
    • Families returning to the doctor were 57% more likely to be reading to their child every day than parents new to the program.
    • Among parents of younger children (aged 6 months to two years), those who had been involved in ROR longer were 69% more likelythan new participants to read to their children every day.
  • Over 8,300 children participated in Raising a Reader.
    • 71% of participating families reported reading together more than three times a week.
    • Parents reported a better understanding of how to make reading time more effective by reading the book’s title to the child, sitting close, praising the child, and asking the child questions.
  • 708 families participated in Motheread/Fatheread
  • 7,062 families participated in Dolly Parton Imagination Library programs that were funded by Smart Start.

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