Partnership for Children of Cumberland County highlighted in the White House’s Playbook for Building an Early Learning Community

Friday, December 12th, 2014 | Author: Eric

The Partnership for Children (PFC) of Cumberland County was included in a “playbook” released by the White House as part of an effort to support state and local elected officials in conveying the importance of high quality early learning, and developing and expanding early education in their communities.

The “Playbook for Building an Early Learning Community” outlines a six-step process to mobilize stakeholders, utilize community data, develop community-wide strategies, determine what works, develop a tracking system, and implement a plan.

PFC of Cumberland County is highlighted in the report as a successful strategy in developing a tracking system, specifically citing their work in developing an integrated data system for collecting, reporting and using child outcomes data.

“The effort has not only led to a coordinated shared data system, it has also resulted in a strong community of practice among service providers in the County,” the report states. “In addition to providing a centralized data hub, PFC is also building the capacity of organizations to use their own data for evaluative and continuous quality improvement purposes. The model was so well received in the County, that to date, 21other counties have joined the effort.”

PFC of Cumberland County is one of only 12 organizations/communities across the country included in the report, further demonstrating how North Carolina and Smart Start local partnerships continue to find innovative ways to ensure children are given the strong start they need for success in school and life.

More information:

Read the Playbook here.

Learn more about the Partnership for Children of Cumberland County here.

Learn more about Invest in Us: The White House Summit on Early Education here.


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Spotlight on Brain Connections!

Friday, June 13th, 2014 | Author: Eric

Early Learning Professional Development Conference

Smart Start of Forsyth County, Inc. (SSFC) will host the 17th annual Early Learning Professional Development Conference Saturday Jun 21 at the Sundance Plaza Hotel on University Parkway in Winston-Salem, NC ( . This year’s conference theme is Spotlight on Brain Connections!

Beth Moore, MEd, a member of the Board of Directors of the North Carolina Association for the Education of Young Children (NCaeyc), will present the morning keynote address at 8:45 a.m.

Registration is free and on a first come, first served basis. Learn more here…

Smart Start Announces New President

Friday, March 28th, 2014 | Author: Eric

Cindy Watkins to Lead the State-Wide Network that Helps Ensure All NC Children Start School Healthy And Ready To Learn

Cindy Watkins

The North Carolina Partnership for Children (NCPC), the organization that leads Smart Start across the state, announced today that Cindy Watkins has been named as the new President of NCPC.

“I am thrilled to have Cindy’s leadership and expertise at NCPC,” stated Dr. Nancy H. Brown, Board Chair of NCPC. “She has significant experience collaborating across public and private sectors at the state and local levels. In addition to her vast knowledge of early childhood, Cindy’s ability to bring a variety of voices to the table to strengthen our communities will be a great asset to the Smart Start network and the children and families of North Carolina.”

Watkins brings nearly 30 years of experience working with children, families and communities to focus energy and attention on improving the lives of young children. She has over 14 years of non-profit management experience, serving as the Executive Director of three Smart Start Partnerships, including the Person Partnership for Children, the Alamance Partnership for Children, and currently the President and Chief Executive Officer of the Guilford Partnership for Children. Watkins also served as the Organizational Advancement Director at NCPC where she developed and implemented organizational strengthening and capacity building initiatives with local partnerships, including board and staff leadership development.

Additionally, Watkins worked in the public school system in Virginia and North Carolina both as a teacher and a counselor. She holds a Master’s Degree in Counselor Education from Lynchburg College and Bachelor of Arts Degree from the University of Mary Washington with a major in Psychology.

Watkins will officially begin as President on April 21, 2014 and be responsible for operations of NCPC and for providing oversight and technical assistance for the state’s early childhood system, Smart Start, including 76 local Smart Start partnerships. Smart Start is North Carolina’s nationally recognized and award-winning early childhood initiative designed to ensure that every child in NC will arrive at school healthy and ready to succeed.

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Smart Start Plays Critical Role During Federal Shutdown

Monday, October 21st, 2013 | Author: Eric

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.



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Louisiana Works with Smart Start Leader to Pilot Early Childhood Initiative

Monday, February 11th, 2013 | Author: Tracy

The Louisiana Department of Education, along with the Department of Children and Family Services and Department of Health and Hospitals, released a Request for Applications (RFA) for communities to participate in a pilot program as part of the implementation of the Early Childhood Care and Education Network. The Community Network Pilot program invites school districts, child care providers, Head Start programs and other stakeholders within a community to work together to provide all children quality and equitable early childhood services, allowing policymakers to learn from their efforts prior to full implementation of the network in fall 2015.

Karen Ponder, the former President of  The North Carolina Partnership for Children, Inc. has been working with the state. “I am pleased that Louisiana’s leaders recognize the importance of communities in meeting the needs of young children and families.  We learned from experience in North Carolina that taking a long-term perspective in building these networks is critically important.  Getting better outcomes requires a clear vision, the state and local communities working together toward the same goals for young children, and resources from both the public and private sectors to continue to build quality.  Having children fully prepared to succeed in school takes families, communities and the state working together.  This pilot should mark the beginning of a long term commitment.”

“Currently, only half of Louisiana’s children enter kindergarten ready to learn; this reality is unacceptable and must be addressed. This pilot program is an important first step towards setting high standards for our youngest learners and ensuring that all of Louisiana’s students have a solid educational foundation by empowering and supporting those closest to them, educators and parents. State policymakers made a vital commitment to the success of our children, and this pilot builds on the collaboration of communities across the state to make their commitment a reality,” said State Superintendent John White.

Baton Rouge parent, Mia Clark-Comager, a Stand for Children Parent Leader, echoed her support for the pilot, “As a parent of three children aged 6, 11 and 13 and also as an early childhood provider, I want what’s best for my own children and the children in my programs.  I know that giving all children access to a high quality pre-k program means that  they will get a strong start and enter kindergarten ready to learn rather than behind with no chance to catch up.  I am glad the model calls on communities to work together!  As a parent, I encourage this collaboration with a focus on improving early childhood program quality and the increased effort to provide parents with information that helps us take action and make decisions that put our children on a path to learning, achievement, and bright futures.

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Unexpected Supporters of Early Childhood Education Speak Up

Thursday, July 12th, 2012 | Author: Patti Mulligan

First 2000 Days Website Launched

Stephanie Carroll Carson, Public News Service-NC

Click to visit the First 2000 Days website

(07/12/12) ROCKY MOUNT, N.C. – The first 2,000 days of a child’s life are what education experts say are crucial to his or her development. North Carolinians from all walks of life are stepping up to ask the state to continue their investment in early childhood education. Last year, state funding for early childhood education funding was cut by more than $60 million, and it has not been restored in this budget year.

Click to hear Sheriff Knight's story

On a new website launched this week, Edgecombe County Sheriff James Knight is one person who voices his opinion. He says in his job he sees a direct correlation between a lack of early childhood education and crime.

“They’re not interested in school at all, and they begin to drop out. Once they begin to be a dropout, then they become a law-enforcement problem.”

The website,, includes perspectives from pediatricians, business leaders, pastors, parents and others.

Click to hear Dr. Smith's story

Pediatrician Michael Smith, Cary, sees first-hand the impact of early childhood education on children, when he evaluates their development in their well-check visits. He describes a hunger for learning in the youngest of babies.

“You can just see that excitement about learning developing. Then, as they get older, the more you nurture that and foster that, the more they go with it and remember it. These early years can be so important.”

Researchers at Harvard have found that the human brain has a “use it or lose it” characteristic, meaning that neural connections in the brain begin disappearing after the first few years of life, unless they are stimulated.

Click here to view this story on the Public News Service RSS site and access an audio version of this and other stories:

Motivational Interviewing Learning Collaborative Pilot Program Accepting Applications

Friday, July 06th, 2012 | Author: Patti Mulligan

MILC: Growing Strong Bones for Effective Family-Based Practice

Prevent Child Abuse North Carolina is currently accepting applications for participation in the Motivational Interviewing Learning Collaborative (MILC) Pilot.  This pilot will take place in Raleigh, NC over the course of 9 months.  As a member of this pilot program you may be asked to provide feedback about the target audience, effectiveness of this shared learning style and barriers and benefits to participation.  

Program Description:

Motivational Interviewing is an evidence based approach for enhancing motivation and strengthening commitment using a complex set of communication skills that are learned and developed over time.  Research has shown that learning and adopting motivational interviewing in practice is rare from self study or attending a workshop and is more reliably obtained through supervised practice (Miller, Yahne, Moyers, Martinez, and Pirritano, 2004).  This learning collaborative allows participants with exposure to the model to learn and practice specific motivational techniques through a supportive coaching and peer feedback process.  In addition to role play, participants will be expected to provide audio tapes of sessions for the purpose of fidelity checks and supervision.   The fee to participate in this Learning Collaborative is $200 for Prevention Network Members and $275 for all others.  Non-members will have the option to join the Prevention Network to take advantage of the discounted rate. 

The MILC will include PCANC programmatic staff and non staff applicants.  If you are participating in PCANC coaching services there is a possibility that you will be learning alongside your coach.



PCANC’s MILC will meet from 1:00 pm – 3:00 pm on the second Tuesday of each month over the course of nine months in Raleigh, NC. The first meeting will be held on Tuesday, September 11, 2012.  There will be an exception in March when the monthly meeting will be held at the Learning & Leadership Summit on Tuesday, March 5, 2013.

  • September 11, 2012
  • October 9, 2012
  • November 13, 2012
  • December 11, 2012
  • January 8, 2013
  • February 12, 2013
  • March 5, 2013
  • April 9, 2013
  • May 14, 2013 

Target Audience:

This program has been planned to address the needs of parenting professionals, social workers, case managers, counselors, coaches, coordinators and others who work with parents, youth, and families.


Participant Requirements:

MILC participants must have at least 8 hours of previous exposure to Motivational Interviewing training.  Additionally, participants in MILC will meet monthly over the course of eight months and are required to have an 80% participation rate.  

MILC Outcomes:

After participating in the Motivational Interviewing Learning Collaborative (MILC), participants will experience:

  • Increased self awareness of when they are using motivational interviewing and when they are not. 
  • Increased comfort using motivational interviewing techniques.
  • Decrease in arguing or persuading in the face of resistance. 

Please click here to access the online application!

Prevent Child Abuse North Carolina
3701 National Drive, Suite 211
Raleigh , NC 27612
(919) – 829-8009

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Spotlight on the Chowan/Perquimans Smart Start Partnership

Monday, July 02nd, 2012 | Author: Patti Mulligan

Excerpt from the North Carolina Incredible Years June 2012 Newsletter

Susan Nixon, IY facilitator and Executive Director at Chowan/Perquimans Smart Start Partnership for Children, shared her recent IY graduation success. Seven parents completed the program, and one of the parents shared a lovely thank you note to express gratitude for the staff’s commitment in offering the program. It’s a great reminder of why we all do this work!

To read the full North Carolina Incredible Years Network newsletter, click here.

Where are Kids on the Campaign Trail?

Thursday, May 31st, 2012 | Author: Patti Mulligan

Where are Kids on the Campaign Trail?

Public News Service-NC:

(05/29/12) CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Advocates for children in North Carolina say the youngest Americans are being ignored so far in the presidential campaigns, and they’re hoping that changes before November. The group Every Child Matters says big business is steering the campaigns with multimillion-dollar attack ads, and the candidates are responding to those, rather than focusing on families.

Every Child Matters President Michael Petit says kids need friends in high places, too – including the Oval Office.

“What we would hope is that the two candidates would listen to the needs of their smallest citizens, understand that they will never be able to adequately represent themselves: they need powerful friends.”

Petit points out there have been more child-abuse deaths in the United States than casualties in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars since those conflicts began, and says more than 80 percent have been children under age four. His group is backing a bill in Congress (S 1984/HR 3563) to convene an expert panel to address the issue.

“It would look at our nation’s system of child protection, our social safety net as it exists for children, and make recommendations on how to build a child protection system that allows children to thrive, instead of one that fails to protect children.”

He acknowledges that the economy, unemployment and health-care costs affect parents and kids. However, Petit notes there has been no discussion on the campaign trail of poverty and related concerns, from inadequate child care to substance abuse and child abuse.

Every Child Matters has a new traveling exhibit that shows how the U.S. compares with other countries in terms of child welfare.

Petit says the U.S. is slipping when it comes to child welfare, compared to other parts of the world. He says the traveling exhibit highlights what past administrations have done to help children.

“What we’re trying to do is show that kids still have these great needs, and that when we’ve made smart choices about investing in our kids, we’ve all benefited from the result of it.”

That traveling exhibit will be in Charlotte for the Democratic National Convention in early September.

In addition to the Democratic and Republican National Conventions, the exhibit will make stops at the presidential and vice presidential debates this summer.

Click here to view this story on the Public News Service RSS site and access an audio version of this and other stories:

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Alexander Early Childhood Advocate Honored at Smart Start Conference

Tuesday, May 15th, 2012 | Author: Patti Mulligan

Margo Mosley Receives Karen W. Ponder Leadership Award

Mosley was nominated by the Alexander County Partnership for Children and a $1,000 cash award will be made to the partnership in her name

GREENSBORO— Margo Mosley, an Extension Agent in Family and Consumer Sciences at the North Carolina Cooperative Extension, was awarded the  Karen W. Ponder Leadership Award at the 2012 National Smart Start Conference. The award, named for Smart Start’s former president, recognizes outstanding service to young children and families in North Carolina.  Mosley was nominated by the Alexander County Partnership for Children. A $1,000 cash award will be made to the partnership in her name. 

For more than 27 years, Margo Mosley has worked on behalf of the children and families of Alexander County. She served on the original Smart Start planning group that held nightly meetings at a local restaurant to develop Alexander County’s plan to bring Smart Start to the community. She has never looked back—serving as board chair twice and leading or being a member of almost every committee at the Partnership.

In addition to Smart Start, Mosley has been instrumental in establishing and enhancing numerous efforts in the community. She helped create the Alexander International Center, an organization that works with the international residents of Alexander County.  She volunteers with Forgiven Ministries, working with the children of prisoners when they visit the prison.

In August Margo will retire as Extension Agent, Family and Consumer Sciences with the NC Cooperative Extension. In nominating Margo, the Alexander Partnership noted, “While a void will be felt through Margo’s retirement there is comfort in knowing that Margo’s work in Alexander County has made Alexander County a much better place.  It has often been said it is important in one’s life to use everything you have.  Margo Mosley has certainly used everything she has for the children and families of Alexander County.   Her legacy will continue long after her retirement.”

Smart Start is North Carolina’s nationally-recognized initiative to ensure that every child reaches his or her potential and is prepared to succeed in a global community. Smart Start measurably increases the health and well-being of young children birth to five, building the foundation for all future learning, by improving children’s early care and education programs so that they are safe, healthy and provide opportunities for children to learn skills they need for success in school; providing parents with tools that support them in raising healthy, happy, successful children; and ensuring that children have access to preventive health care.

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