Please upgrade your browser

Why Smart Start Matters

Greater investments in young children see greater returns in education, health and productivity.

Watch these two short videos to better understand the need for quality child care and the importance of the First 2,000 Days of life and the impact of Smart Start for young children in our community.

Change the First Five Years and You Change Everything

First Five Birthdays

Quality Child Care Facilities

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. For more information about the rating system, click here.

Child Care Services Association searchable data link

Did You Know?

  • New Hanover County (NHC) has 98 licensed child care programs, 65 are centers and 33 are family
    child care homes. (, March 2018)
  • Of all the licensed programs in NHC, 65% of the centers and 18% of homes have a 4 or 5 star rating. (, March 2018)
  • Among birth to five year old children enrolled in centers in NHC, 71% are in 4 or 5 star
    licensed centers. Among birth to five year old children enrolled in homes in NHC, 23% are in 4-5 star licensed homes. (, March 2018)
    3.5 is the average star rating for child care centers and homes in NHC. (NC Division of Child Development and Early Education, calculated June 2018)
  • In NHC, 4,376 children birth to five and 1,156 school-age children are enrolled in licensed child care programs.  (, March 2018)
  • In NHC, there are an estimated 11,590 children ages birth to five years old who have not yet entered kindergarten.  (, 2018)

Economic Impact of Quality Early Childcare

  • Licensed child care programs employ 725 people directly, and also contribute to the economy through purchases of goods and services provided by other businesses in their communities and state. (, March 2018)
  • Approximately 8,922 children under six in the county live in families where their sole parent or both parents are working. The need for quality child care is critical to the economic viability of these families and businesses.  (, March 2018)
  • Most families in New Hanover County cannot afford the full cost of child care. Low-income families and families with more than one child have to pay a high percentage of their income for care. Often, little is left in the family’s budget for food, medical, clothing, travel or other basic living expenses. Due to the high cost of child care, parents often make difficult choices. Some may be forced to seek TANF. Others may seek cheaper, often inadequate child care or leave their children unattended. (, March 2018)
  • In January 2018, the county served 1,392 different children with child care subsidy and had 785 eligible children on the waiting list for subsidy. (, March 2018)

New Hanover County (NHC) and North Carolina (NC) Children: Quick Facts

  • Children under 5 make up 5.1% of the population in NHC. (, 2018)
  • 30% of children ages birth to 5 live in poverty in NHC. (, 2011)
  • 46% of children under age 18 live in families with incomes less than 200 percent of the federal poverty level in 2016 in NC.
  • 67% of children ages 3-4 living below 200% poverty were not in school in 2016 in NC. (, 2018)
  • 28.5% of children ages 2-4 are overweight or obese. (NC Nutrition and Physical Activity Surveillance System, 2011)
  • 4% of children under 18 are uninsured in 2016 in NC (8% in 2011). (, 2018)
  • 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)

Useful Links

Click on the videos below to find out more about Smart Start.