What is the Iredell County Partnership for Young Children?

The Iredell County Partnership for Young Children, a non-profit organization, is the Smart Start affiliate for Iredell County and serves as our community’s lead organization for young children and their families. The Iredell County Partnership for Young Children:

  • Conducts research, facilitates county-wide and community specific planning, and allocates/leverages funds to support programs which benefit young children 0-5 years old and their families.
  • Is a catalyst for bringing together diverse sectors and interests to help develop solutions.
  • Serves as the central source of information and technical assistance to improve the quality of child care in Iredell County.
  • Educates the community on the critical needs of young children and the importance of early education.

Our vision is that all children in Iredell County enter school healthy and ready to succeed.

What is Smart Start?

Smart Start is North Carolina’s nationally-recognized initiative to ensure all children enter school healthy and ready to succeed.  Smart Start helps working parents pay for child care, improves the quality of child care and provides health and family support services in every North Carolina county.

Click to visit the NC Smart Start website

Smart Start was the initiative that created all local partnerships in North Carolina and was launched in 1993 by Governor Jim Hunt.  It is the only program of its kind because it is a comprehensive approach to preparing children for school, and it is being replicated in other states.  Local Partnerships, such as ours, determine programs and services that best meet local needs.  The North Carolina Partnership for Children is the umbrella non-profit organization which sets guidelines, as well as provides oversight and technical assistance to local partnerships across the state.

What is the difference between Smart Start and Head Start?

Head Start is a federally-funded preschool program that targets low-income 3- and 4-year-olds. Smart Start is funded through state and private funds and provides a variety of services for all children from birth to five years old and their families.

Who is served by the Iredell County Partnership for Young Children?

Our agency serves thousands of children ages 0 to 5 years and their families in Iredell County each year. We also help hundreds of child care providers and early education teachers through consulting services, trainings, technical assistance and Education Awards for college coursework to improve their abilities to teach young children.

Why do programs funded by the Iredell County Partnership for Young Children focus on early childhood development?

Years of research proves that educational and emotional development happens at a far greater rate in the earlier years of life and what happens then matters for a lifetime. To make the greatest impact, we must put in place and maintain programs that support children and families in their earlier years of development.

Children who arrive at school health and well-prepared:

  • Outperform other children on achievement tests
  • Require less grade repetition
  • Are more likely to graduate high school
  • Are less likely to be arrested or commit crimes.

Is Smart Start just for low-income families?

No. Smart Start works to ensure all children have the skills they need to be successful in school. That could include access to higher quality child care, referrals to community services and support for families.

How can I enroll my child in a Smart Start center?

Smart Start is not a child care center.   Our agency works to improve the quality of child care centers and homes through educational opportunities for child care teachers, reducing teacher turnover, providing resources and educational materials, etc.  The Partnership can help you find high quality child care arrangements in your community.

How can I get help paying for child care?

Our agency allocates Smart Start funds to the Iredell County Department of Social Services to use to help pay for child care through their subsidy system.  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.

What is the difference between Smart Start and NC Pre-K?

Smart Start is a state-wide initiative that begins serving young children at birth with high quality child care, health and family support services. Education begins at birth, so it’s important to reach children early.  In Iredell County, our agency administers the NC Pre-Kindergarten program which specifically targets four-year-olds at-risk of school failure in a quality preschool classroom.