Shape NC Awarded $3 Million From BCBSNC Foundation

Thursday, January 23rd, 2014 | Author: Eric

Three Year Results Show Significant Improvements in Healthy Eating and Physical Activity in Child Care Programs Across the State.

RALEIGH, NC — Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina (BCBSNC) Foundation announced today the award of a $3 million grant to the North Carolina Partnership for Children (NCPC) to expand Shape NC.  Shape NC is an early childhood obesity prevention program that, in its first three years, has dramatically improved child care environments across the state. The program has engaged 19 communities spanning 27 counties to improve health and nutrition for our youngest citizens.  As a result of the first investment, Shape NC improved access to healthy fruits and vegetables and increased physical activity for more than one thousand North Carolina children. Program results include:

  • Children’s Weight: Over the course of each school year, trends showed the percent of children who reach a healthy weight is gradually improving.
  • Active Play: The percent of children being provided with 90 minutes or more of physical activity daily rose from 51 percent to 85 percent. \
  • Fruit: The percent of children being provided with fruit two or more times per day rose from 34 percent to 80 percent.
  • Vegetables: The percent of children being provided with vegetables two or more times per day rose from 32 percent to 60 percent.
  • Outdoor Learning: 19 child care centers made improvement to outdoor learning environments including additions such as bike paths and vegetable gardens.

“I am grateful for the partnership with the BCBSNC Foundation — it has allowed us to break down barriers and help our children overcome the obstacles they face in maintaining a healthy weight,” said Stephanie Fanjul, President of NCPC.  “Because of their support, we will build on these impressive results and provide even more North Carolina children with a healthy start to a productive life.”

Shape NC helps communities and child care centers develop environments, practices and policies that encourage young children to be healthy. This is accomplished by creating a strong and vital network of local experts to provide ongoing support to centers in instilling healthy behaviors early on that create a solid foundation for a healthy life.

“High obesity rates and rising health care costs are problems that we are facing as a nation and as a state,” said Dr. Nancy H. Brown, Chair of the Board of NCPC. “Shape NC effectively tackles these problems at their roots – our state’s youngest children. From healthy eating to outdoor classrooms, the program has helped provide children, child care center staff and families with positive experiences in nutrition and physical activity.”

The award of an additional $3 million means that the program will be able to expand its work through the Smart Start network, led by NCPC, to provide more North Carolina children with the start they need to develop strong minds and bodies.

“Shape NC is already helping communities and child care centers develop environments, practices and policies that encourage young children to be healthy,” said Kathy Higgins, President of the BCBSNC Foundation. “This initiative works, so we’re giving the North Carolina Partnership for Children the resources it needs to expand and enhance Shape NC  and improve the health and well-being for more of North Carolina’s youngest children and the communities in which they live.”

Shape NC was recently highlighted as a key part of recommendations for a strategy that addresses the problem of rising obesity rates and health care costs by The North Carolina Institute of Medicine (NCIOM) Task Force on Early Childhood Obesity Prevention (ECOP). The recommendations included ways to work across fields and sectors to ensure that similar messages, assessments and policies impact parents and children when and where they can be reached. NCIOM will be hosting a summit on January 29, 2014 to discuss the recommendations and outline an implementation strategy.

To learn more about the work and results of the NCIOM Task Force, visit the NCIOM website.

View the Shape NC Annual Report here.

View the summary overview of Shape NC’s third year results.

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Smart Start, a network of nonprofit local partnerships led by The North Carolina Partnership for Children, Inc. (NCPC), creates innovative solutions to measurably increase learning and the healthy development of children birth to five. Smart Start gives local communities the freedom and responsibility to determine how to increase the health, well-being and development of their children based on the needs and resources of their local communities. NCPC establishes measurable statewide goals and communities determine the best approach to achieving them. Click here for more information.

The Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina Foundation (BCBSNC Foundation) is an independent philanthropic affiliate of Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina and is dedicated to improving the health and well-being of North Carolinians. The Foundation’s focus areas include: Health of Vulnerable Populations – improving health outcomes of populations served by safety net organizations and Healthy Active Communities – increasing physical activity and access to healthy local foods. BCBSNC Foundation invests in programs and services in response to grant requests and proactively creates initiatives or partners with organizations to address specific needs. It also coordinates several Signature Programs, among them, Be Active Kids® and Healthy Community Institute for Nonprofit Excellence. More information is available at www.bcbsncfoundation.org. Since its founding in 2000, the BCBSNC Foundation has invested nearly $98 million into North Carolina communities through more than 720 grants.

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Smart Start Announces New Board Members

Friday, January 17th, 2014 | Author: Eric

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Heather Strickland – hstrickland@smartstart.org, 919-821-9564

RALEIGH, NC— Community leaders from across the state were officially sworn in as members of The North Carolina Partnership for Children’s (NCPC) Board of Directors. NCPC is the organization that leads Smart Start across the state. As part of the 26-member board, these new members will provide oversight to ensure that all North Carolina children have access to the high quality early care and education, health, and family support services they need to thrive.

“This is an outstanding group of new members that will further enhance Smart Start’s ability to ensure that every child arrives at school healthy and ready to succeed,” said Dr. Nancy H. Brown, Board Chair of NCPC. “We are very pleased to welcome these community leaders to our dedicated Board of Directors.”

The new members of the NCPC Board of Directors include:

Ms. Lorie Barnes – Barnes is Executive Director at the North Carolina Association for the Education of Young Children (NCaeyc). NCaeyc is the state affiliate of the National Associate for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) and promotes and inspires excellence in the early care and education of young children birth through age eight.

Mr. Robert Eagle – Eagle is Vice President and Treasurer of Eagle Holdings & Development and was a member of the initial Board of Directors of NCPC. As a child care provider for almost 30 years, he worked to formulate business practices and policies that would ensure a quality experience for the thousands of children served by nine centers in the Charlotte-Mecklenburg area.

Mr. John “Zac” Everhart – Everhart is a member of the Board of Directors for Craven Smart Start and co-owner of the Excel Learning Centers. Excel Learning Centers currently care for over 2,000 children and employ 375 child care providers in Carteret, Craven, and Onslow counties.

Ms. Joan Graham – Graham is the owner of Kids `R` Kids in Greensboro, NC. Since 2006, she has worked to provide innovative facilities and effective educational programs for children six weeks through 12 years of age in the Triad area.

Ms. Anna Mercer-McLean – Mercer-McLean has been in the early childhood education field for over 23 years. She is currently the Director of the Community School for People Under Six in Carrboro, NC and has been an advocate for high quality early care and education for all children, specifically low and moderate income children and their families.

Mr. Douglas S. Punger, Sr. – Punger served as General Counsel for the Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Board of Education for approximately 33 years, retiring in 2006. Currently, he serves as Chairman of the Board of Smart Start of Forsyth County and on the Board of the Arts Based School, a charter School in Winston-Salem.

Dr. Rosemary Fernandez Stein – Stein is a pediatrician with over 26 years experience and is the owner of International Family Clinic (IFC) Pediatrics in Burlington, NC. She graduated from Universidad Nacional Pedro Henriquez Urena a Medical School in the Dominican Republic.

In addition to the new appointments, Governor McCrory reappointed the following NCPC board members: Dr. Nancy H. Brown, Pearl Burris-Floyd, Charles Morris, James Morrison, and Carole Wilson.

 

From left to right: Rosemary Fernandez Stein, Douglas S. Punger, Anna Mercer-McLean, Joan Graham, Robert Eagle, John “Zac" Everhart, Lorie Barnes, NC Supreme Court Chief Justice Paul M. Newby.

 

 

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Smart Start, a network of nonprofit local partnerships led by The North Carolina Partnership for Children, Inc. (NCPC), creates innovative solutions to measurably increase learning and the healthy development of children birth to five. Smart Start gives local communities the freedom and responsibility to determine how to increase the health, well-being and development of their children based on the needs and resources of their local communities. NCPC establishes measurable statewide goals and communities determine the best approach to achieving them. Click here for more information.

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Press Release – NC Partnership for Children Expands Reach Out And Read

Thursday, December 12th, 2013 | Author: Eric

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Heather Strickland – hstrickland@smartstart.org, 919-821-9564

Over $76,000 Awarded to 11 Smart Start Partnerships Across NC

RALEIGH, NC—The North Carolina Partnership for Children (NCPC) announced the award of $76,500 to Smart Start partnerships across North Carolina to expand work through the early literacy program Reach Out and Read (ROR).

ROR is a national program that supports doctors in their efforts to “prescribe” reading to young children and families during well-child visits. Smart Start works with medical practices across the state to promote early literacy and school readiness in pediatric exam rooms by giving books to children and advice to parents about the importance of reading aloud. This includes book sharing, free books for children to keep, and waiting rooms full of books.

“We know that a key indicator that a child has a strong foundation to lead a productive life is third grade reading ability,” stated Dr. Nancy H. Brown, Board Chair of NCPC. “By starting early with literacy programs that assist parents in developing habits of reading daily to their children and assist children in discovering an early love of reading, we ensure our state’s youngest citizens start school ready to learn and prepared to excel.”

In the 2012-2013 fiscal year, Smart Start served over 20,000 children through ROR. In addition, families returning to the doctor were 57 percent more likely to be reading to their child every day than parents new to the program.

“Reach Out and Read is thrilled to be able to expand our partnership with Smart Start in communities across North Carolina,” stated Callee Boulware, Executive Director of Reach Out and Read Carolinas. “The partnership is a natural one – the network of local partnerships helps to support strong, high-quality Reach Out and Read programs in communities, better supporting children and families across the state.”

The following Smart Start partnerships received awards for ROR to be expanded to their communities:

  • Children and Youth Partnership for Dare County: $4,500
  • Smart Start of New Hanover County: $9,000
  • Stokes Partnership for Children: $4,500
  • Down East Partnership for Children: $4,500
  • Carteret County Partnership for Children: $4,500
  • Smart Start of Davidson County: $4,500
  • Smart Start of Forsyth County: $18,000
  • Wake County Smart Start: $9,000
  • Orange County Partnership for Young Children: $4,500
  • Partnership for Children of Johnston County: $4,500
  • Smart Start of Yadkin County: $9,000

In addition to these new awards, 14 partnerships received funding to continue ROR programs in their communities. NCPC will also be purchasing books for all new medical practices participating in the program.

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Smart Start, a network of nonprofit local partnerships led by The North Carolina Partnership for Children, Inc. (NCPC), creates innovative solutions to measurably increase learning and the healthy development of children birth to five. Smart Start gives local communities the freedom and responsibility to determine how to increase the health, well-being and development of their children based on the needs and resources of their local communities. NCPC establishes measurable statewide goals and communities determine the best approach to achieving them. For more information click here.

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Press Release – NC Partnership for Children Hosts Faith Summits Across State

Wednesday, September 11th, 2013 | Author: Eric

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Heather Strickland – hstrickland@smartstart.org, 919-821-9564

NC Partnership for Children Hosts Faith Summits Across State

Faith Leaders Will Discuss the Vital Role They Play in Building Strong Foundations for Children

RALEIGH, NC—The North Carolina Partnership for Children (NCPC) is hosting a series of regional summits across the state bringing together faith leaders, community leaders, and early child care experts to discuss the critical role places of worship play in building a strong foundation for learning and health for North Carolina’s youngest citizens.

The First 2000 Days Faith Summits, taking place in September and October, will provide attendees with the understanding of how significant the first years of life are in critical brain development. Additionally, each summit will host a discussion panel with representatives from community colleges, local places of worship, and child development organizations.

“For many North Carolina children, their first consistent exposure to public settings beyond immediate family is their church, synagogue or mosque,” said Nancy Brown, Board Chair of NCPC. “Our faith leaders coming together to talk about their role in providing high quality early care, and connecting to resources that will help their members invest in early learning, will have a profound impact on our local communities and state.”

Summits will be hosted in the following locations:

  • Greenville, NC – September 12, 9:00 a.m. – Noon at Cornerstone Missionary Baptist Church
  • Concord, NC – September 17, 10 a.m. – 1 p.m. at McGill Baptist Church
  • Fayetteville, NC – October 1, 10 a.m. – 1 p.m. at Snyder Memorial Baptist Church
  • Rutherfordton, NC – October 15, 10:00 a.m. – 12:15 p.m. at Second Baptist Church
  • Burlington, NC – October 29, 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. at First Presbyterian Church

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Smart Start, a network of nonprofit local partnerships led by The North Carolina Partnership for Children, Inc. (NCPC), creates innovative solutions to measurably increase learning and the healthy development of children birth to five. Smart Start gives local communities the freedom and responsibility to determine how to increase the health, well-being and development of their children based on the needs and resources of their local communities. NCPC establishes measurable statewide goals and communities determine the best approach to achieving them. For more information, visit www.smartstart.org.

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Press Release – Expert Taskforce Releases Recommendations for Obesity Prevention for State’s Youngest Children

Tuesday, September 10th, 2013 | Author: Eric

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Heather Strickland – hstrickland@smartstart.org, 919-821-9564

Expert Taskforce Releases Recommendations for Obesity Prevention for State’s Youngest Children
Shape NC Highlighted as Key Part of Strategy to Create Healthier NC

RALEIGH, NC — A taskforce comprised of child care and health experts from foundations, government agencies, universities, health professional associations, and community groups released recommendations today to address the problem of rising obesity rates and health care costs by targeting the issue at its roots – the state’s youngest children birth to five.

The North Carolina Institute of Medicine (NCIOM) Task Force on Early Childhood Obesity Prevention (ECOP) recommended a strategy that works across fields and sectors. This cooperation ensures that similar messages, assessments and policies impact parents and children when and where they can be reached. From the pediatrician’s office to the child care center, this approach can ensure a healthier start to the state’s youngest residents.

“As a key partner in Shape NC, I am proud of the work The North Carolina Partnership for Children has done to increase knowledge of nutrition and the importance of physical activity among children, their families and teachers,” said Nancy Brown, Board Chair of NCPC. “These recommendations highlight how this work can be expanded to be part of a larger, systematic effort that can improve the health of children and our state.”

Shape NC, a partnership between the Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina (BCBSNC) Foundation and NCPC, is a $3 million initiative that addresses childhood obesity by focusing on the child care setting and community.

The recommendations identified programs, including Shape NC, which taskforce members believe are both important and practical to support because of the progress already made in improving health and wellness in pilot child care centers. The report states, “There has already been considerable effort to implement evidence-based and evidence-informed physical activity and nutrition strategies in child care programs through existing programs like Shape NC, Nutrition and Physical Activity Self Assessment in Child Care, Preventing Obesity by Design, and Be Active Kids.”

The taskforce recommendations also include: improving the treatment and prevention of early childhood obesity in health care settings; integrating healthy activities into child care settings; utilizing community resources to reduce childhood obesity; and expanding the collection and reporting of physical activity and nutrition data. The NCIOM taskforce was convened at the request of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina Foundation (BCBSNC Foundation) and was a collaborative effort between the BCBSNC Foundation, the North Carolina Partnership for Children (NCPC), and the NCIOM. For additional information about the importance of obesity prevention and to read the full recommendations, please visit http://www.nciom.org/publications/?childhoodobesityprevention.

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Smart Start, a network of nonprofit local partnerships led by The North Carolina Partnership for Children, Inc. (NCPC), creates innovative solutions to measurably increase learning and the healthy development of children birth to five. Smart Start gives local communities the freedom and responsibility to determine how to increase the health, well-being and development of their children based on the needs and resources of their local communities. NCPC establishes measurable statewide goals and communities determine the best approach to achieving them. For more information, visit www.smartstart.org.

 

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Press Release: Rev. Lewis Named to Smart Start Board of Directors

Tuesday, August 27th, 2013 | Author: Eric

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE   Contact: Heather Strickland, 919-821-9564

Date: August 27, 2013

RALEIGH, NC—Reverend Stanley Lewis, Jr. of Halifax County has been named to the board of The North Carolina Partnership for Children, Inc. (NCPC), the organization that leads Smart Start across the state. House Speaker Thom Tillis appointed Lewis to serve on the statewide board. As part of the 26-member board, Lewis will provide oversight to ensure that all North Carolina children have access to the high-quality early care and education, health, and family support services they need to thrive.

“Rev. Lewis has an impressive history of building communities and local networks that support the development of young children,” said Nancy Brown, Board Chair of NCPC. “Experience and knowledge of what works at the local level is an asset to the Partnership and to children and families across North Carolina.”

Lewis has a joint pastorate at Calvary, Weaver’s Chapel and Corinth Methodist Churches in Halifax County. He currently serves as the Vice Chair of the Halifax-Warren Smart Start (HWSS). Additionally, he served as Board Chair for nearly 10 years and was a member of Smart Start’s Local Partnership Advisory Committee (LPAC).

Lewis received his Bachelor of Science in Computer Science from North Carolina State University in 1986 and received his Master of Divinity from Asbury Theological Seminary in 1999. He graduated with honors and was ordained a Deacon in the United Methodist Church the same year. He was later ordained as Elder and admitted as a full clergy member of The North Carolina Annual Conference of The United Methodist church.

Lewis continues to be an advocate for children, specifically those facing difficult circumstances due to poor economic conditions, educational levels and other factors that impact the development of young children. He currently serves on the board of directors for Child Abuse Resource and Education (C.A.R.E.) a local agency in Halifax County that focuses on children and families in poverty.

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Smart Start, a network of nonprofit local partnerships led by The North Carolina Partnership for Children, Inc. (NCPC), creates innovative solutions to measurably increase learning and the healthy development of children birth to five. Smart Start gives local communities the freedom and responsibility to determine how to increase the health, well-being and development of their children based on the needs and resources of their local communities. NCPC establishes measurable statewide goals and communities determine the best approach to achieving them. For more information, visit www.smartstart.org.

 

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Study: NC Child Care Generates Jobs and Billions in Revenue

Thursday, September 22nd, 2011 | Author: Vivian

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Contact: Tracy Zimmerman
Date: September 22, 2011 tzimmerman@smartstart.org, 919-821-9546

Statewide report with new county information released today

RALEIGH, NC— Child care in North Carolina generates $1.7 billion in revenue annually and accounts for at least 49,600 jobs—more than real estate, nursing facilities, and chemical manufacturing—according to a study released by the Insight Center for Community Economic Development and The North Carolina Partnership for Children, Inc (NCPC). The report and new information about the economic impact of the child care industry in each county is available today on www.smartstart.org. The report finds that the early care and education industry is a significant economic driver, generating income tax through direct employment as well as by allowing 380,000 North Carolina parents with young children to work, earning $12.5 billion annually in revenue.

Today, 445,000 North Carolina children birth through five live in homes where all parents work. That is 59 percent of the state’s youngest children who rely on child care providers or other caregivers during a time of critical brain development. Science shows that before the age of three, the human brain develops faster than any other time in life. A recent study by Duke University found that young children in communities that had more funding for the Smart Start and More at Four early education initiatives, performed better on third grade reading and math tests and had fewer special education placements.

“Businesses rely on employees, and employees rely on quality child care,” said Dr. Olson Huff, M.D., Board Chair of NCPC. “Early education benefits employers now and our entire society in the long-term. We should be investing in, not cutting, programs that strengthen our early care and education system.”

During the past legislative session, Smart Start and NC Pre-K (formerly More at Four) each received 20 percent cuts to funding, resulting in fewer services for children, including fewer slots in preschool programs.
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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 all children have the experiences they need to thrive. Smart Start is the system that brings together all the people involved in a young child’s life—families, teachers, doctors, caregivers, social workers, and many others—to ensure every child has all they need for healthy growth and development. For more information, visit www.smartstart.org.

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Smart Start Thanks Gov.Perdue for Commitment to Early Education Quality and Accessibility

Wednesday, August 10th, 2011 | Author: Vivian

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Aug 10, 2011

Statement on Governor Perdue’s Executive Order to Protect the Academic Integrity and Accessibility of NC Pre-Kindergarten Program

Today, Gov. Bev Perdue instructed the state agency in charge of North Carolina’s pre-kindergarten program to preserve the high standards, quality and accessibility of this crucial academic program for at-risk children.

The General Assembly’s budget made significant changes to NC Pre-K (formerly known as More at Four). Changes include a 20 percent cut in funding that reduces the availability of the program to at-risk children, a parent co-pay that could charge families up to ten percent of their income, and the transfer of the program from the Department of Public Instruction to the Department of Health and Human Services.

Dr. Olson Huff, Board Chair of The North Carolina Partnership for Children, Inc.

“Today marks an important day for early education in North Carolina. Thanks to Governor Perdue’s actions, that state’s youngest children can continue to benefit from early learning programs that we know improve academic performance.

Her decision is backed by years of research that shows learning begins at birth, well before children enter Kindergarten at age 5. It is further supported by studies proving that the state’s early learning programs, Smart Start and what was formerly More at Four, are moving education in the right direction, improving our children’s reading and math scores in elementary school.

We thank Governor Perdue for taking a strong stand today to ensure a brighter future for our youngest children, especially at-risk children. Her actions will strengthen the entire education system, benefitting children, schools, and the future of North Carolina as a whole.”
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Smart Start is the state’s early childhood infrastructure. Smart Start local partnerships serve as a system to convene stakeholders to assess local needs; ensure accountability; and leverage community, state and federal resources. Local partnerships have established community networks that bridge education, health services, and family supports to best meet the needs of young children and their families. Learn more at www.smartstart.org.

Media Contact:  Vivian Muzyk
vmuzyk@ncsmartstart.org

Phone: 919-821-9571

 

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Court Ruling First Ever to Acknowledge Importance of Birth to Five in Education Continuum

Friday, July 22nd, 2011 | Author: Vivian

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

National Leaders Tout North Carolina Landmark Decision

Raleigh, NC—North Carolina Superior Court Judge Howard Manning, Jr. issued the first court ruling that acknowledges the pivotal role early education plays in allowing at-risk children to avail themselves of their right to a sound basic education. He issued the ruling earlier this week. Leaders from around the country are touting the landmark decision.

“To my knowledge, this is the first time that a court has recognized what decades of scientific research have shown—that the foundation for learning (whether strong or weak) is built long before a child starts kindergarten. Indeed, science tells us that early experiences literally shape the architecture of the developing brain. With this knowledge as a context, the Court’s decision is legally responsible, economically wise, and morally commendable,” said Jack P. Shonkoff, M.D., Director of the Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University.

“This will be a moment written about in future history books. For the first time, a court has acknowledged the influential role of early learning, beginning at birth, in the education continuum,” said Charles Kolb, president of the Committee for Economic Development. “The ruling is based on the same profound science that has rallied business leaders to support quality early education as part of America’s education system. North Carolina is once again making early education history. I can only hope that the rest of the country will not be far behind.”

The ruling is part of the long-running Leandro case. That case established the standard that all children have the constitutional right to a sound basic education. In 2000, Judge Manning said that the state was obligated to provide pre-kindergarten education to “at-risk” children. North Carolina began More at Four in response to the ruling. In June, the court held a hearing in which the Leandro plaintiffs challenged the budget cuts enacted by the legislature for the coming year, particularly the changes to More at Four.

Throughout the decision, Judge Manning emphasized the importance of early education, calling particular attention to Smart Start, North Carolina’s early childhood system that serves children birth to five. “Put another way, each at-risk child under age 4 that is receiving services from Smart Start will be better prepared, physically and developmentally, to benefit from NCPK’s educationally based prekindergarten programs when they arrive at age 4.” Judge Manning wrote.

He noted, “The bottom line . . . is that the State, using the combination of Smart Start and the More at Four Pre-Kindergarten Programs, have indeed selected pre-kindergarten combined with early childhood programs, as the means to ‘achieve constitutional compliance’ for at-risk prospective enrollees.”

The ruling is online at http://bit.ly/mQxCoy.

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Smart Start is the system that brings together all the people involved in a young child’s life—families, teachers, doctors, caregivers, social workers, and many others—to ensure every child has all they need for healthy growth and development. For more information, visit www.smartstart.org

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National Leaders Tout NC Landmark Decision

Friday, July 22nd, 2011 | Author: Tracy

Early learning advocates have cause to celebrate this week! For the first time, a court in the United States acknowledged the importance of birth to five in the education continuum.

North Carolina Superior Court Judge Howard Manning, Jr. issued the first court ruling that speaks to the pivotal role early education plays in allowing at-risk children to avail themselves of their right to a sound basic education. He issued the ruling earlier this week.

Leaders from around the country are touting the landmark decision.

Jack P. Shonkoff, M.D., Director of the Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University
“To my knowledge, this is the first time that a court has recognized what decades of scientific research have shown—that the foundation for learning (whether strong or weak) is built long before a child starts kindergarten. Indeed, science tells us that early experiences literally shape the architecture of the developing brain. With this knowledge as a context, the Court’s decision is legally responsible, economically wise, and morally commendable.”

Charles Kolb, president of the Committee for Economic Development
“This will be a moment written about in future history books. For the first time, a court has acknowledged the influential role of early learning, beginning at birth, in the education continuum,” said. “The ruling is based on the same profound science that has rallied business leaders to support quality early education as part of America’s education system. North Carolina is once again making early education history. I can only hope that the rest of the country will not be far behind.”.

 

The ruling is part of the long-running Leandro case. That case established the standard that all children have the constitutional right to a sound basic education. In 2000, Judge Manning said that the state was obligated to provide pre-kindergarten education to “at-risk” children. In June, the court held a hearing in which the Leandro plaintiffs challenged the budget cuts enacted by the legislature for the coming year.

Throughout the decision, Judge Manning emphasized the importance of early education, calling particular attention to Smart Start, North Carolina’s early childhood system that serves children birth to five. “Put another way, each at-risk child under age 4 that is receiving services from Smart Start will be better prepared, physically and developmentally, to benefit from NCPK’s educationally based prekindergarten programs when they arrive at age 4.” Judge Manning wrote.

How this will play out in practical terms remains to be seen. But as Judge Manning wrote, “This case has always been about the rights of children.”

Download the ruling.

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