03/23/05 — Wayne has more 4- and 5-star daycares

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Wayne has more 4- and 5-star daycares

By Phyllis Moore
Published in News on March 23, 2005 1:52 PM

Wayne County Partnership for Children, which operates the Smart Start program for young children, hopes to benefit from additional money proposed in a bill making its way through the Legislature.

If Senate Bill 678 becomes law, an additional $26 million will be allocated for Smart Start partnerships in 60 counties that were at or below the state average in funding. Wayne County would be among the recipients of those funds.

The additional money would allow for the expansion of several services in Wayne County, said Don Magoon, executive director of Wayne Partnership for Children. Among these would be expanding work within the Latino community, serving more working families of young children, providing a salary supplement for child-care teachers in the WAGES program, expanding the Parents-as-Teachers program, and continuing a new literacy program.

Wayne County fell below the state average last year in funding for childcare services, Magoon said. Great strides were made this year to bring the numbers up, he said.

"I expect we are closer to the average this year due to our expansion of More at Four in Wayne County and the aggressive efforts of our staff and funded programs to make a difference for Wayne County children," he said.

In 2000, all childcare centers licensed by the state moved to a star rating system. Stars were used to show how well a center is doing in program standards, staff education and compliance. Centers can receive up to five points in each of the three areas, and up to five stars as a total rating.

Magoon said Wayne County can be proud of its licensed centers.

"Today we have the highest number of 4- and 5-star child-care facilities that Wayne County has ever enjoyed," he said. "For the first time ever, our county average star placements will be over the 3-star level."This year, based on the monthly tracking system, the ratings have climbed from 2.9 stars to 3.08 stars, he said. Magoon said he hopes to end the year in June with a 3.2-star average based on actual child care placements.

"This has not come easily," Magoon said, "but I credit Smart Start and More at Four, which are both administered by the Partnership for Children, along with a lot of dedicated work in the childcare community to implement more and more best practices, for achieving this milestone."

Karen Ponder, the president of North Carolina Partnership for Children, said that restoring the $26.1 million in funding will have an immediate and lasting effect on young children and their families, she said. In the past four budget years, she said, Smart Start has seen its funding reduced three times. At its highest level, Smart Start received almost $228.2 million from the Legislature. Last year, its received $189.5 million.