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News State / Region Early childhood development to receive $150K

Region A Partnership for Children and Southwestern Child Development Commission will receive some relief soon from impending budget cuts. The two non-profits were awarded $150,000 from the Community Foundation of Western North Carolina. Each was given $75,000 Early Childhood Development Focus Area Grants back in May in order to operate programs that focus on early childhood development in the 18 counties of Western North Carolina.

The Community Foundation is a permanent regional resource that serves the Western North Carolina and provides knowledge about the region and relationships with donors to enrich lives and communities in the region. Annually, the Foundation facilitates about $11 million to charitable causes.

Region A Partnership for Children is the nonprofit organization that administers the state's Smart Start and Pre-K initiatives in the seven westernmost counties and on the Qualla Boundary. Funding will expand the Parents as Teachers program in Cherokee, Clay, Graham, Haywood, Jackson, Macon, and Swain counties.

Parents as Teachers (PAT), which is used by Smart Start in Region A, is a voluntary family education and support program for parents of young children. The program is based on the beliefs that parents are their children's first and most influential teachers and that the early years lay the foundation for children's success in school and in life.

PAT provides the information, support and encouragement parents need to help their children develop optimally during the crucial early years of life. As a part of the program, certified parent educators make home visits, conduct parent group meetings focusing on early childhood development and parenting, perform developmental and health screenings on young children, and provide linkages and referrals for community networks and resources.

Southwestern Child Development Commission is a private nonprofit organization located in Webster, N.C. It provides early childcare and education to the same seven counties. The grant that SCDC will receive is meant to help educate and engage stakeholders with the goal of improving access to quality, affordable early childhood care and education.

Co-investors, the Community Foundation of WNC and the Lipscomb Family Foundation Fund chose to back the commission in its goals to improve early childhood education and developmental outcomes for children, particularly at-risk children not in formal early childhood programs.

“In the last four years we have witnessed substantial cuts to early childhood programs, and there is no sign that this trend is reversing,” said Philip Belcher, vice president for programs at the Community Foundation. “We know that investing in quality learning experiences during the early years is economically efficient and more cost effective than remediation efforts. Our intent is that these grants—one focused on program expansion and one utilizing advocacy strategy— will help make high-quality care and education possible for more families in the region and will improve outcomes for some of our youngest residents.”

In 2011, the Community Foundation adopted a strategic plan that focused discretionary resources on those who are in need, early childhood development, food and farming and preserving natural and cultural resources.


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