Who started Smart Start and why?
Smart Start-Centre County was initiated two years ago to begin to address early childhood issues.
Smart Start is a collaborative effort between the State College Foundation, Centre County United Way and the Center County Child Care Services offices. In conjunction with the Pennsylvania Partnerships for Children and with other local support, a steering committee was formed and planning begun. For the past two years, more than 100 volunteers have worked on strategic planning and committee projects, all dedicated to the notion that a happy and healthy childhood will lead to a happy, healthy, productive adulthood.
What is Smart Start?
Smart Start-Centre County is a network of business leaders, citizens, educators, child care professionals, parents, and others who come together to facilitate and promote demonstration projects within communities that are designed to promote early childhood health, education, and support.
Who is Smart Start for?
Smart Start-Centre County has the welfare of all children and their families in the county at heart. All families are welcome at any Smart Start demonstration project, since we recognize that all parents need help from time to time in giving their young children the best start possible.
Where does Smart Start’s money come from?
Through the three-agency collaboration, money is supplied from grants through the State College Foundation, United Way, and government funds, among other sources. Demonstration projects are funded from these dollars, in the hope that communities and the businesses within them will begin to fund these projects on their own.
Why should I care?
From an economic standpoint, early childhood support is everyone’s business. Children who are not supported tend to have more problems in schools, have more run-ins with the law, and are not as productive in society as they could be. Tax increases are necessary to provide funds for remedial programs and increased law enforcement, and low productivity of workers becomes an issue for employers. From a business standpoint, support of children now leads to better employees later. From a community standpoint, children who are healthy and happy become healthy and happy adults, contributing to their communities in great ways.
How is Smart Start different from other human service organizations?
Smart Start does not provide services. It is a collaborative effort among agencies to provide start-up dollars for demonstration projects that support young children. Projects are run by committees within the communities and Smart Start supports them.
Aren’t there already agencies doing this?
No, many agencies don’t share information between themselves, nor do many human service workers have the time or knowledge to go out within the community and advocate for their agencies. Smart Start provides a platform upon which organizations can come together to collaborate and share and to pool resources for creative strategies.
I didn’t have kindergarten or early childhood services and I turned out alright. How do you explain that?
Society has changed; people have different priorities now. In the last generation, many mothers were able to stay home with their children. That is not the case now. Both parents must work to support the family and with the children in someone else’s care for the better part of the day, high-quality child care and support becomes critical.