Smart Start is a Proud Partner of The Meck Effect

February 2024

In the wake of the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic in 2021, Mecklenburg County found itself in a pivotal moment of recovery. The American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) injected a substantial $215 million into the County's efforts to overcome the aftermath of the virus. Responding to this crucial influx of funds, the Mecklenburg County COVID-19 Strategic Recovery Plan and Application Process was formulated to allocate resources and address pressing needs effectively.

A critical outcome of this initiative was distributing ARPA dollars to local organizations, among which Smart Start of Mecklenburg County received $342,500 to implement its home visiting expansion plan, "Home Visiting: Equitable Evaluation, Growth, and Expansion of Services in Mecklenburg County." The expansion plan includes a strong focus on parenting education and family engagement.

The timing was serendipitous in that parenting education's significance gained broader recognition because Governor Cooper designated February as "Parenting Education Awareness Month." This acknowledgment underscored the vital role of parenting education in fostering healthy family dynamics and supporting child development.

With the ARPA funds, Smart Start of Mecklenburg County has seized the opportunity to make a lasting impact. As we roll into Parenting Education Awareness Month, we are pleased to share recently published home-visiting resources, including a localized guide to home-visiting programs in Mecklenburg County, a Mecklenburg County Landscape Analysis, and a Landscape Analysis Executive Summary.

Veronica Kirkland, Smart Start's Home Visiting Expansion Coordinator, stated, "The effective integration of Home Visiting programs with Early Childhood systems is essential in building a system that truly benefits children. Parents are a child's first teacher, and Home Visiting is an evidenced support mechanism that promotes and fosters the healthy growth of this critical relationship, as it values the mindset of shared power where families are equal partners and active participants in decisions about their child".

Learn about the phases of Smart Start's Home Visiting plan and current Smart Start-funded Home Visiting programs here. This content supports our vision that all children turn five ready to thrive.