Statement from Dolly Parton and the President of Smart Start on the State Budget

Press Contact: Heather Strickland 919-821-9564, 919-749-5013

The following joint statement from Dolly Parton and Cindy Watkins, President of the North Carolina Partnership for Children/Smart Start, is in response to the release of the 2017-2019 final state budget by the North Carolina General Assembly. The budget includes a $27.3 million increase in funding for NC PreK, an increase in the market rate for child care subsidies for infants to two-year-olds in tier three counties, an increase of $2 million for Nurse Family Partnership, and $3.5 million in the first year and $7 million in the second year for Smart Start to administer Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library across North Carolina.

“I’m so excited to join Smart Start to expand my Imagination Library across the state. Welcome aboard North Carolina – let’s give these dreams some wings!” – Dolly Parton, Founder of Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library

“This budget clearly reflects a commitment to investing in our youngest children and their families. Our state leaders have expanded funding for child care subsidy, NC PreK, and early literacy through Smart Start. These investments are significant steps forward in building strong foundations for our state’s future.” – Cindy Watkins, President NCPC/Smart Start


Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library is a book gifting program for children from birth to age five. The mission of the program is to foster a love of reading in preschool children and ensure that every child born has books, regardless of their family’s income.

Smart Start is a network of 75 nonprofit local partnerships that serve all 100 North Carolina counties. This network is led by The North Carolina Partnership for Children, Inc. (NCPC) that ensures fiscal and programmatic accountability, and coordinates the statewide network to create better outcomes for children and families.


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