Polk Smart Start to merge with McDowell County Partnership

Published 6:25 pm Thursday, April 19, 2012

Barry Gold, executive director of the Rutherford/Polk Smart Start Partnership, recently announced the McDowell County Partnership for Children & Families voted to proceed with the proposed merger of the two non-profit organizations. The Rutherford/Polk board had previously approved the merger.
Effective July 1, the new tri-county organization will become Partnership for Children of the Foothills. The main office for the organization will remain in Rutherford County and the current satellite office in Polk will remain the same. The current office of the McDowell Partnership will be relocated within McDowell County and will become a satellite office of the merged organization.
Barry Gold will remain as executive director for the newly merged tri-county partnership and continue to provide Smart Start representation on local Rutherford County committees, boards and teams.
Cathy Brooks will remain as director of program and planning and continue to provide Smart Start representation on local Polk County committees, boards and teams. Caroline Rodier, current executive director of McDowell County Partnership, will become assistant director of the new partnership and will provide Smart Start representation on local McDowell committees, boards and teams.
This local action is being taken to reduce administrative costs and improve the opportunities for grant funding with the higher population base of a tri-county organization.
Smart Start is a public/private partnership created in 1993 to help prepare preschool children for learning. Independent, private organizations work in all 100 N.C. counties through The North Carolina Partnership for Children Inc. and 77 local partnerships.
The vision of Smart Start is that every child reaches his or her potential and is prepared for success in a global community. Smart Start’s mission is to advance a high quality, comprehensive, accountable system of care and education for every child beginning with a healthy birth.
Smart Start in Polk County began in 1994, when a local planning team began meeting to explore the local needs of the birth to 5-year-old population. Planning funding was awarded in 1996, and the Polk County Partnership for Children became an incorporated non-profit organization.
Smart Start program allocations for each county are calculated on a funding formula based on the birth-to-5-year-old population, as well as all other federal and state funding streams coming into all agencies in that county for various services for that population. Within the new tri-county partnership, the administrative funds will be blended but program allocations will be kept separately for each of the three counties.
Currently, the Smart Start funded programs in Polk County are:
• Child care subsidy through Polk County DSS
• Wage supplements for child care teachers and teacher assistants, based on income eligibility and education level
• Child care training and technical assistance for teachers and directors in local child care centers
• Child care health consultation, focused on safety, health, nutrition, physical activity and policy consultation and training for all child care centers.
Polk Smart Start funds also are allocated to help with the cost of the nursing positions in the Nurse Family Partnership home-visitation program.
An additional special project in Polk County involves enhancing the outdoor play area at some of the child care centers to transition the spaces into outdoor learning environments where nature-focused activities along with increased physical activities are supported.
– article submitted
by Cathy Brooks

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