MECK Pre-K Classrooms are Opening Around the City

 Spots are filling up, but there's still time to register!
You might have noticed banners, flyers and signs going up around the city promoting Mecklenburg County's latest early childhood initiative: MECK Pre-K. With hundreds of children already enrolled, we are excited to announce the first classrooms officially opened on Wednesday, September 26.

Four-year-olds across Mecklenburg County are beginning their educational journey at licensed four and five-star childcare centers. Throughout the year, they will be developing skills in these five critical areas: social and emotional skills, creative arts, scientific thinking, social studies and technology.

Join us!

It's not too late to register. Additional classrooms will continue to open throughout the fall. To learn more and to register your child, click the button below.
You're Invited!
Trick or Treating for Guys and Ghouls with Autism Spectrum Disorder
Follow these tips for a spooktacular Halloween!
While trick-or-treating can be an exciting and sugar-coated tradition for many, children with an Autism Spectrum Disorder can often find Halloween to be an overwhelming and stressful holiday. Before you take your child out, consider these tips to help make Halloween a fun evening for you and your family.

Know Your Child
As you think about your child's costume, keep in mind their tactile preferences. Are there certain materials your child has strong feelings towards or against? Does s/he have an aversion to masks, hats or accessories? Allow your child's preferences to help guide their costume choice.

Make a Plan
Talk with your child about your trick-or-treating route and what they can expect that evening. What should they say? If your child is nonverbal, consider printing a sign like this one that says "Trick-or-Treat" for them.

Walk your trick-or-treating route a day or two in advance. If your child is feeling nervous about ringing doorbells and saying "trick-or-treat", ask a few family members and friends if you can practice at their house.

Be Flexible
Trick-or-treating can be fun, but don't be afraid to change the plan if you and/or your child stops having a good time. Sometimes there are factors you just can't predict ahead of time. If it doesn't work out, consider inviting some friends over for a Halloween movie and popcorn, or find a local organization hosting a trunk-or-treat.
Meet the Smart Start Team

Say hello to our Program Director, Lee Henderson.
What is your role at Smart Start of Mecklenburg County?
I joined the Smart Start Team over nine years ago as the Program Director. My responsibilities include the funding allocation process for both external and in-house programs that serve parents and children birth to five in Mecklenburg County, as well as provide oversight and support to those community programs. I work closely with community members and other organizations to ensure we are providing services to support the Smart Start mission of “Every child being prepared to enter kindergarten ready to succeed."

What is one thing you have learned in this job that you wish more people knew?
Many people would be surprised to know that this organization invests over $22 million dollars a year in programs that support children and families.
What is your favorite thing to do around Charlotte?
Charlotte is a wonderful community to live in with easy access to the mountains and beaches. I love whitewater rafting, hiking mountain trails and reading a great book while sitting in a beach chair.

What is your favorite childhood book?
As a child I was an enthusiastic reader. My new favorite book to read to my grandchildren is “The Day the Crayons Quit."
Funded Program Spotlight
Dolly Parton Imagination Library

The goal of the Dolly Parton Imagination Library is to ensure families with children birth to five years of age are fully equipped with the appropriate developmental tools and resources needed to promote the importance of early literacy.

ALL children younger than five years old living in Mecklenburg County are eligible to receive a FREE book in the mail each month.

Click here  to register your child and start building your at-home library today!

Smart Start of Mecklenburg County administers approximately $22 million a year in state, county and private funds to programs serving children birth to age five, their families, and their caregivers in Mecklenburg County.