02/03/08 — Child care programs get high marks in Wayne County

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Child care programs get high marks in Wayne County

By Phyllis Moore
Published in News on February 3, 2008 2:18 AM

The quality of child care in Wayne County is improving, with more families having access to, and taking advantage of, programs offered through such agencies as Smart Start.

The announcement comes from the North Carolina Partnership for Children Inc., which leads the state Smart Start program and evaluates local and statewide progress each year.

The number of children enrolled in 4- and 5-star programs has increased 122 percent since 2001, with 45 percent of all Wayne County children in child care enrolled in the highest quality programs.

The Partnership for Children of Wayne County actively works with child care programs throughout the county to improve the quality of care by assessing center quality, recommending changes where needed, and helping child care teachers continue their education.

Don Magoon, executive director, said funding received by the local Partnership contributed to the outcome.

"Over 70 percent of the local Partnership's Smart Start budget is invested in child care- related programs and about 40 percent is earmarked for subsidy," he said, noting that the local initiative goes beyond supporting families, child health and education of young children.

"We fund programs at the Partnership offices, Cooperative Extension, Wayne County Public Library, WAGES, and the Wayne County Health Depart-ment as well as administering Wayne County's More at Four program and Safe Kids Wayne County."

Their goal is to be the "primary resource for families with young children," Magoon said.

"If we do not offer the services families need for their young children here at the Partnership, we know which of our community partners can meet family needs and make referrals that result in the best services available."

The report is great news for the future generation of Wayne County, NCPC President Steph-anie Fanjul said.

"Not only are young children experiencing improved care, but families seeking child care are better able to find high quality programs," she said.