FORSYTH COUNTY, N.C. (WGHP) – Early education is critical for a child’s development. Exposing them to tools and educators trained to care for them can impact them for life.

Many families face challenges when searching for the right place for infants and toddlers. Some parents pay more for daycare or preschool than they do for housing. Some childcare centers have also closed, giving parents fewer options.

Smart Start of Forsyth County is addressing issues like staffing shortages and low pay. The organization puts state, federal and private funding it receives into partnerships with other nonprofits.

Those programs then give resources, training and financial assistance directly to families and providers, CEO and President Dr. Louis A. Finney Jr. explains. (this sentence looks weird to me- is everything correct?)

“We actually contract out with five nonprofits and we give out approximately $4.2 million dollars in the community to really do a lot of services for families. We also give out $1.9 million dollars in scholarships for parents who are low-income when in training programs who can’t afford child care. We also manage the state’s NC Pre-K programs,” Finney said.

Smart Start was able to hire a Chief Strategy Officer with a grant from The Winston-Salem Foundation. Carrie Pasquale will communicate the organization’s priorities to the public and make sure it is on track to meet future goals.

“We need to keep in mind the earlier we can provide early intervention and services, the better off our community will be lowering rates of crime and social injustice,” Pasquale said.

Smart Start leaders hope to transform the childcare system as a whole. Finney says the best way to support that mission is by showing gratitude for early childhood educators and advocating for additional programs that support early childhood development centers and families.

“Early care and education is everybody’s role and responsibility,” Finney said.

Non-discretionary funds are also vital to Smart Start’s success. You can make a donation to the organization online.