Thursday, April 18, 2024

Meet Smart Start of New Hanover County, preparing our children for success in schools

Staff Pic Family Fest 2017
The staff of Smart Start of New Hanover County. (Courtesy of Stephanie Harris)

WILMINGTON — There are only about 2,000 days between the time a baby is born and when that child begins kindergarten, and experiences during that time have a lasting impact on later learning, health, and success. Smart Start of New Hanover County’s mission is to ensure every child has all they need for healthy growth and development and to ensure that every child has the opportunity to enter school prepared for success.

Aimee Blockfest (1)
Children learn through their relationships with others – the back and forth of a sensitive and responsive caregiver is critical for brain development. Pictured is Aimee of Smart Start at their Blockfest event. (Courtesy of Stephanie Harris)

Children learn through their relationships with others – the back and forth of a sensitive and responsive caregiver is critical for brain development.  At Smart Start, we work to build and enhance the capabilities of adult caregivers to strengthen relationships.

On any given day Smart Start staff can be found at a child care center coaching a teacher on providing the kind of feedback to a 2- year-old that can foster her curiosity and confidence, consulting with a teacher about how to address classroom behavior issues, or with a director on updating policies and procedures.  

They can be found visiting a family at their home modeling types of play that can build a child’s fine motor skills. They can be found teaching a parenting class, facilitating a support group for children with special needs, and working with parents, pediatricians and teachers to foster emergent literacy skills.  

They can be found working with other organizations and agencies to build a system of supports in New Hanover County so that all children flourish.

The North Carolina Smart Start Initiative began in 1993 with the mission to “ensure that every child in North Carolina will arrive at school healthy and prepared for success.” At that time, no other state had developed such a comprehensive approach to early education that included both a public and private partnership.

With the highest infant mortality rates in the nation, and with two-thirds of mothers of young children working outside the home, Governor Jim Hunt knew something had to be done to help children before they entered Kindergarten.

“We cannot build a world-class workforce if our children don’t come to schools ready to learn,” Hunt said. Today, there are Smart Start partnerships in all 100 counties in North Carolina that serve as models for others states around the country.

Matt Family Fest 2017 (1)
Smart Start’s mission is to ‘ensure that every child in North Carolina will arrive at school healthy and prepared for success.’ Pictured is Matt at the Smart Start Family Fest event. (Courtesy of Stephanie Harris)

Locally, Smart Start of New Hanover County shares with the other citizens of New Hanover County a common concern for and commitment to the future success of our youngest children. Under the direction of Executive Director Dr. Jane Morrow, Smart Start of New Hanover County serves as a local leader in developing a comprehensive, collaborative approach to meet the needs of all children, birth to five.

Smart Start strives to be the foundation that lifts up the people who care for children under five in our community. When early childhood teachers, parents, and other caregivers have the support and tools they need, children thrive. That’s what we are here for – to be the go-to place for anyone needing support and resources for children birth to five years of age.

Smart Start in action at Blockfest. (Courtesy of Stephanie Harris)

Smart Start is a private, non-profit organization with an all-volunteer board of directors.  To learn more about the programs and services we provide, you can explore our web site at; stop by our office at 3534 S. College and visit their resource room; and friend us on Facebook where daily posts offer information on children’s development, upcoming events, and much more.

-Content provided by Stephanie Harris, Smart Start of New Hanover County

local_shout_4-edited-424x300-1This content was provided by a community member via Local Shout, a new initiative at Port City Daily. Port City Daily cannot guarantee the accuracy of information presented in this story. If you have additional information or would like to submit a story, please contact

Related Articles