A Message from NCPC President Stephanie Fanjul
The federal shutdown had the potential to impact over 36,000 children under five who were at risk of losing their child care, but we were able to keep most of our youngest children from bearing any of the burden of the loss of federal funds.
Smart Start partnerships across the state brought their communities together, getting Division of Social Services (DSS) local officials, parents, providers and community leaders into one room to figure out the best way to make sure our children continued to receive quality care and education.
Smart Start proved to be critical in protecting children and supporting providers by leveraging expertise and experience across the state while effectively tapping into local resources. With partnership staff working at the local level to address immediate concerns facing families and connecting with community stakeholders, and the North Carolina Partnership for Children (NCPC) engaging with state agencies and sharing information across all North Carolina counties, the network provided a support system that prevented a disaster.
The tireless efforts of staff were no less than extraordinary. Stakeholder meetings and discussions were happening around the clock and I personally received messages from local folks at all hours. My conversations with Rob Kindsvatter, the Director of the Division of Child Development and Early Education (DCDEE), and his staff sometimes occurred hourly as we shared the latest information from the federal and state governments and important actions being taken at the local level.
Here are just a few examples of local action:
- The Madison County Partnership for Children brought together their Board, Assistant County Manager, School Superintendent, parents, local attorneys, community faith leaders, local DSS Director, and many more to discuss solutions that helped ensure that there was no suspension of subsidy.
- The Onslow County Partnership for Children, with strong partnership from their local DSS, responded very quickly with support and resources for families and an invaluable solution that provided temporary subsidy funding for the area’s youngest children.
- The Lee County Partnership for Children reached out to child care programs and let them know that they could assist children whose services had been suspended during this period. They then provided temporary vouchers for children served with federal funds.
- The Chatham County Partnership for Children brought together local child care providers and organizations to quickly compile data and information for County Commissioners on the local economic impact of child care.
- Wake County Smart Start worked with County officials to bridge a funding gap so that child care subsidies could continue through the end of October. This helped to delay the sending of notification to over 3,000 families that their child care would be suspended.
There are many other stories of our local partnerships bringing together community leaders to find solutions, supporting parents so they can keep working, providing funds to keep children in child care centers, and being a voice for so many that had no other options.
I am so proud to be part of the Smart Start family. The dedication every partnership showed during this time of crisis was inspiring and we have come out on the other side with stronger relationships at all levels and many lessons learned.