Supporters of Smart Start traveled recently to Raleigh to encourage the N.C. General Assembly to restore its funding.
The group included parents, business leaders, faith community leaders and board members. They met with Western North Carolina’s legislative delegation. Last year, Smart Start funding was reduced by 20 percent, or $37.6 million, meaning thousands of children are no longer enrolled in early childhood programs.
“State funding for Smart Start has been cut by $80 million over the last decade,” said Larry Hinton of Sylva, board chair for the Region A Partnership for Children. “These cuts are occurring at the same time that economists, military leaders, law enforcement and business leaders are advocating that investments in young children are one of the strongest investments for sustained growth and job creation, protecting our national security, and providing children with the opportunity to reach their potential.”
The Region A Partnership for Children administers Smart Start and N.C. Pre-K initiatives in the seven westernmost counties of the state and on the Qualla Boundary.