06/15/12 — Partnership for Children seeks more funding

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Partnership for Children seeks more funding

By Phyllis Moore
Published in News on June 15, 2012 1:46 PM

A contingent from Wayne County met with members of the N.C. General Assembly Tuesday to advocate on behalf of Partnership for Children of Wayne County and promote funding for early childhood education.

The group, which included business leaders, health professionals, parents and law enforcement offices, traveled to Raleigh as part of Smart Start's statewide "Tuesdays for Tots" initiative. The Partnership is a Smart Start-funded agency.

In 2011, Smart Start funding was cut 20 percent, or $37.6 million, more than any other area of the education system, officials said. As a result, thousands of children were placed in jeopardy of not receiving placement in early education programs.

"There are only 2,000 days between the time a baby is born and when that child shows up in for the first day of kindergarten," said Dr. Katherine MacDonald, a pediatrician at Goldsboro Pediatrics. "Investing in our youngest citizens is a wise investment for families, the economy and our society as a whole."

The local group also included Bill Batts, owner of Small World Child Care Center; Wendy Hooks, principal of Tommy's Road Elementary School; and Corporal Marissa Davis of Goldsboro Police Department. They met with members of the Wayne County legislative delegation, which included Sen. Louis Pate and representatives Stephen LaRoque and Efton Sager.

State funding for Smart Start has been cut by an estimated $80 million over the past decade, said Partnership officials, all coming at a time when early literacy programs should remain a priority.

"Because children prepare to read long before they enter school, literacy efforts focusing on young children birth to five will help more children have the opportunity to succeed," said Wendy Smith, NC Pre-K teacher at Small World Child Care. "Research shows that children who aren't proficient readers by third grade are less likely to graduate from high school and be successful. The foundation for those literacy skills begins at birth."