Children & Families

April 02, 1997 2 min read

North Carolina’s Smart Start program, an effort to improve the lives of children younger than 6 by increasing their access to proper health and child care, will be featured in the first White House conference on early-childhood development and learning. President Clinton and first lady Hillary Rodham Clinton are the hosts for the event, scheduled for April 17.

More than half of North Carolina’s 100 counties participate in the Smart Start program, which brings together community leaders, such as doctors, child-care providers, ministers, parents, teachers, and businesspeople to identify goals for the children in their areas and then dispense a combination of public and private funds.

So far, more than 154,000 children have received higher-quality care, and more than 26,000 early-childhood teachers have received additional training.

In his proposed budget, Gov. James B. Hunt Jr. has included money to expand the program to all the state’s counties.

Adults participating in the federally funded Even Start family-literacy program in three Texas communities have advanced their educations, according to a preliminary evaluation of the program by three education researchers from Texas A&M University in College Station.

Of the 82 participants surveyed from three school districts, 34--or 46 percent--had earned their General Educational Development certificates and four had received their high school diplomas.

The parents surveyed were from the Conroe, Crockett, and Socorro districts.

The Even Start literacy program, which targets economically disadvantaged parents and their children, has four components: adult education, early- childhood education, parenting skills, and joint parent-child education skills.

Other gains were found as well. Employment among these parents jumped from 15 percent to 41 percent, and the average hourly wage increased from $4.92 to $6.73.

Parents who had never before helped their children with homework assignments became more involved in their children’s educations, according to Don Seaman, the director of the Texas Center for Adult Literacy and Learning.

He is conducting the study along with his wife, Anna Seaman, a senior lecturer in the university’s early-childhood program, and Ann Martinez, a research coordinator.

A full report on the success of the Even Start program in 12 Texas communities will be released this summer.