1. How do I enroll my child in Smart Start?
Smart Start is not a child care center and we are not one program. We fund many programs in the community that are managed by other agencies. Each agency has its own application process and eligibility requirements. Consult our list of funded programs for contact information for each agency and program. Funded Programs
2. How is Smart Start funded?
Smart Start is funded by the state through the North Carolina General Legislature. Other funds are provided by private donations and grants from corporations and foundations.
3. Is Smart Start operated by the state?
No. Smart Start of Mecklenburg County is a private nonprofit. We have a local Board of Directors with community and business representatives. Our Board sets boundaries and makes key operational and funding decisions. Some positions are designated for representation by specific organizations.
4. Is Smart Start only for low-income families?
No. Smart Start’s mission is to ensure that ALL children are healthy and ready to enter school. This includes programs in areas of health, family support, early care and education. We do fund some programs that are based on family income such as child care subsidy, NC Pre-K, etc.
5. Is Smart Start affiliated with Head Start?
No. Head Start is a federally-funded preschool program that targets low-income three and four year olds. Smart Start is funded by both state and private dollars, providing a variety of services for children ages birth to five. Call the local Head Start agency at 704-375-1417 for more information about their program.
6. Are Smart Start services free?
Most Smart Start funded services are free or on a sliding scale basis depending on the program, community need, and availability of funds.
7. How do I know if a child care program provides quality service?
The state of North Carolina has implemented a star rating system to help parents choose quality child care. This is a volunteer-based program. Church child care centers and those with a temporary license may choose to opt out of the system. Licensed child care programs are monitored by the state according to specific criteria. Programs are given one to five stars with one-star being the lowest and five-stars being the highest quality.
8. Is financial assistance available for low-income families who need child care?
Yes. Smart Start funds a subsidy program through Child Care Resources Inc. at www.childcareresourcesinc.org. Qualification requirements depend on family size, salary, and other information. Although there is usually an extensive waiting list, we still encourage you to apply if you need financial assistance paying for child care.
9. How can I get copies of parenting information?
Be sure to check out our For Parents webpage. It includes online publications you can download or print. You can also sign up for our “Starting Line” quarterly newsletter.
10. What type of programs do you fund?
Go to our Funded Programs webpage for an updated list of programs with a brief description, website links and contact information. Funded Programs