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Why Smart Start Matters

The Heckman Equation: Make greater investments in young children to see greater returns in education, health and productivity. Read the article here.

Watch this short video from “The Ounce” to better understand the benefits of investing in early childhood education.

First Five Birthdays: Watch this video created for the 2013 Pledge Breakfast for Children’s Champions to better understand the importance of the first 2,000 of life and the impact of Smart Start for young children in our community.

Community Profile
North Carolina’s Smart Start early education initiative is designed so that each county identifies and addresses its most pressing needs.

Did You Know?

  • In North Carolina, children under 5 years of age make up nearly 7% of the state’s population.  (NC Division of Child Development and Early Education, 2013)
  • In New Hanover County, there are 14,530 children ages birth to five years old who have not yet entered kindergarten.  (US Census 2010)
  • 4,184 children birth to five and 1,042 school-age children are enrolled in licensed child care programs in New Hanover County.  (, 2012)
  • In New Hanover County, there are approximately 8,900 children under age 6 with their sole parent or both parents working.  (, 2012)
  • There are 128 licensed child care facilities in New Hanover County.  (NC Division of Child Development and Early Education, 2013)

There are two types of child care facilities: child care centers and family child care homes. All licensed facilities are given ratings, ranging from 1 to 5, by the NC Division of Child Development and Early Education to reflect their quality standards.

73 Child Care Centers

  • 22 Five Star
  • 16 Four Star
  • 20 Three Star
  • 1 Two Star
  • 5 One Star
  • 7 GS 110 (Church-based programs)
  • 1 Special Provisional License
  • 1 Provisional License

55 Family Child Care Homes

  • 4 Five Star
  • 4 Four Star
  • 18 Three Star
  • 6 Two Star
  • 23 One Star

3.04 is the average star rating for child care centers and homes in New Hanover County. (NC Division of Child Development and Early Education, calculated August 2013)

New Hanover County Children: Quick Facts

  • Children under 5 make up 5.8% of the population.  (, 2011)
  • 30% of children ages birth to 5 live in poverty.  (, 2011)
  • 1,699 children of working families receive child care subsidy.  There are at least 310 eligible children on the waiting list.  (, 2012)
  • 28.5% of children ages 2-4 are overweight or obese.  (NC Nutrition and Physical Activity Surveillance System, 2011)
  • 7.9% of children under 18 are uninsured.  (, 2011)
  • 3.7% of children ages birth to 3 receive early intervention services for special needs.  (, 2010)
  • 10% of kindergarteners have untreated tooth decay.  (, 2009)
  • In 2011, there were 210 pregnancies to mothers ages 15-19.  (, 2001)
  • The 128 licensed child care businesses in New Hanover County employ 818 people.  (, 2012)

Useful Links

Good Reads: Studies on the Impact of Early Education

From Birth to School: Examining the Effects of Early Childhood Programs on Educational Outcomes in NC (2010) Kenneth Dodge, Ph.D, Helen Ladd, Ph.D, and Clara Muschkin, Ph.D. Center for Child and Family Policy Duke University

  • Higher grade 3 standardized reading test scores.
    Scores are higher in counties that received higher allocations for Smart Start. The Smart Start investment was equivalent to about 2 months of instruction on average.
  • Reduction in special education placements by grade 3.
    About 10% fewer children were placed in special education by grade 3, which amounts to an expected savings in special education costs at least equal to the cost of the Smart Start program.
  • The positive effect was seen for all children but is highest among the group of children for whom the initiatives were targeted–children at risk for academic failure.
  • This strategy permits estimation of total effects–direct effects and spill-over effects to non-participants, and is well suited for an initiative like Smart Start. Because Smart Start offers a wide variety of programs (e.g., parenting classes, screenings in doctors’ offices, improvements in the quality of child care) and children participate at different rates, it is impossible to identify the program or combinations of programs in which each child participated.

High/Scope Perry Preschool Study (2005) Schweinhart, L.J., Montie, J., Xiang, Z., W.S., Belfield, C.R., & Nores, M.

  • This study, perhaps the most well-known of all High/Scope research efforts, examines the lives of 123 African Americans born in poverty and at high risk of failing in school.
  • From 1962-1967 at ages 3 and 4, the subjects were randomly divided into a program group that received a high-quality preschool program. In the study’s most recent phase, 97% of the study participants still living were interviewed at age 40. Additional data were gathered from the subjects’ school, social services and arrest records.
  • The study found that adults at age 40 who had the preschool program had higher earnings, were more likely to hold a job, had committed fewer crimes and were more likely to have graduated from high school than adults who did not have preschool.