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Investment in early-childhood needed

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To the editor,

The Kids Count Survey just released the disappointing results that rank North Carolina 41st in the nation in child-friendly practices.

This study was released even as our state legislators debated the funding for early-childhood initiatives, including Smart Start, that provide the very resources that the survey says we lack.

Smart Start has taken budget cuts since 2000, and these losses directly affect our ability to impact poverty and education in our community.

Local Smart Starts like Durham’s Partnership for Children are distressed by the correlation between insufficient funding and poor performance – but not surprised.

If we intend to pull North Carolina from the 10 worst child-friendly states in the country, this survey must serve as a call to action.

Our response must include an investment by the entire community.

It needs to start in the legislature with full funding for Smart Start that does not leave half of our families behind.

It needs to start with business and corporations stepping up to the plate with nonprofits that provide services for young children and families.

It needs to start with individuals urging business and government to provide child care benefit options.

If we intend to be a state that cares about and supports its children, we simply must make an investment in early childhood.  There is no other way.

Marsha R. Basloe, executive director, Durham’s Partnership for Children, Durham, N.C.

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