Each child. Every neighborhood.
Celebrate Week of the Young Child with us!
Smart Start of Mecklenburg County is celebrating NAEYC's Week of the Young Child, a week dedicated to celebrating early learning, young children, their teachers, and families. We will be co-hosting events during the week of April 8-13 with child care centers, schools and nonprofits around Mecklenburg County celebrating art, music, food, families and more. We invite you to join us at the end of the week for a FREE Family Fun Fair at Johnson C. Smith University on Saturday, April 13th from 10am-2pm.
A Bear-y Big Thank You
This year's Teddy Bear Breakfast was a fundraising AND a friendraising success. And we have a few people we'd like to thank for that:

Thank you to the families and children who came out to the event and spent the morning reading, eating and dancing with us; to the volunteers who gave hours of their time to help set up and run the event; to all the donors and sponsors who made this event possible for our families; and to our partners who never fail to show up to support Smart Start and our community's children. To everyone who shared their time, talents, and/or treasures to make this event successful: THANK YOU. We can't wait to see you next year at Teddy Bear Breakfast 2020!

April is Child Abuse Prevention Month
Plant a pinwheel garden to bring awareness to child abuse prevention.
Did you know:  According to the CDC, children who experience any of the four most common types of abuse (physical, emotional, sexual or neglect) are at risk for disrupted brain development. This disruption often leads to an increased risk of serious physical, mental, or social health issues as adults.

Prevention is key. Find out how you can spread awareness about preventing abuse and help every child have the great childhood they deserve. A few ways you can get involved are:

  • Speak up! Tell your elected officials at every level that you support programs that promote great childhoods.
  • Volunteer for an organization that supports children and families.
  • Plant a pinwheel garden in your community to help raise awareness. Be sure to share it on social media using #PassThePinwheel and #Meck4Kids.
Growing Up in a Bilingual Home
Is it ok to speak to my child in my native language? Will learning two languages confuse my child and delay his/her language abilities? What should I do if my child insists on speaking only English?

There are many benefits to growing up in a bilingual or multilingual home, but parents often have concerns about how it will affect their child in the short- and long-term. Check out these resources for parents raising a bilingual child:

Recognizing and Reporting Signs of Abuse
As an educator who spends a great deal of time getting to know your students, you are often the first line of defense when it comes to recognizing and reporting child abuse.

Common signs of abuse include: unexplained bruises or injuries that don’t match the history given, difficulty concentrating, changes in behavior or emotions (withdrawal, extreme passivity, or aggression), unusual wariness or fear of adults. Learn more.

If you see or suspect child abuse, by law you must report it. You do not need proof, only reasonable cause. Call Mecklenburg County’s 24-hour hot-line: 980-31-HELPS (43577).
Upcoming Events You Won't Want to Miss!
April 5 - Water Safety and Summer Fun
12:30pm-2:00pm | Charlotte-Mecklenburg Library Steele Creek Branch
Stephanie Tomalis, Program Director at Charlotte Aquatics, will speak on the importance of water safety, tips for finding swim lessons, and ways to have fun as we head into the summer months. Learn more
April 7 - Latino Children's Festival
10:30am-2:30pm | Our Lady of Guadalupe
Come learn more about MECK Pre-K and pick up a registration form at La Noticia's Latino Children's Festival! We will have a booth and Spanish-speaking staff available. Learn More
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April 13 - Family Fun Fair
10:00am-2:00pm | Johnson C. Smith University
Facepainting and bounce houses and stories, oh my! Celebrate Week of the Young Child with us at our fun, FREE event for young children and their families. Learn More
April 19 - Smart Start Offices Closed
Smart Start of Mecklenburg County's offices will be closed on Friday, April 19 in observance of Good Friday.
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Funded Program Spotlight
Child Care WAGE$ Program
Are YOU enrolled in WAGE$? Already this year, over 480 teachers and directors have taken advantage of the $1,008,000 Smart Start of Mecklenburg County has invested in this program . Now it's your turn!
The Child Care WAGE$® Program provides education-based salary supplements to qualifying teachers, directors and family child care providers working with children between the ages of birth to five. The program is designed to provide preschool children more stable relationships with better-educated teachers by rewarding teacher education and continuity of care.  Learn More
Meet the Smart Start Team
Say hello to our Meck Basics Manager, Janet Harmon.
What is your role at Smart Start of Mecklenburg County?
I am the Manager of Meck Basics, a community campaign that is part of a network of “The Basics” initiatives spreading across the world to promote early brain development. The Basics are five fun, simple and powerful ways to help all children, 0-3, grow to be happy and smart. My role is to partner with organizations and individuals within the community so that all parents and caregivers of young children have access to information about The Basics and receive support to incorporate them into their routines and practice them each day.
 
What is one thing you have learned in this job that you wish more people knew?
I was surprised to learn that lots of parents still worry that showing babies lots of attention and responding quickly to their needs will “spoil” them. You can’t spoil babies. Just the opposite is true! Babies who receive lots of love and affection learn to feel safe and secure. When caregivers are responsive to their needs and provide comfort, they lay the foundation for healthy development.
 
What is your favorite thing to do around Charlotte?
There are so many great things to do in Mecklenburg County, especially as the weather warms up! We live in Davidson and I love to run on the cross country trails on the campus of Davidson College, or walk the dog down Main Street until we find a place where we can sit outside and enjoy the sunshine.
 
What is your favorite childhood book?
There were so many books I loved as a child, and many more I loved reading with my own children! One of my favorites was  Miss Twiggly’s Tree.  Miss Twiggly is shy and lives in a tree (how cool is that?!). The people in town think she is odd, but when the town floods, she opens her home to help her neighbors. It’s a lovely story about learning to appreciate differences and coming together to help one another.
FREE Books for children under 5!
ALL children in Mecklenburg County are eligible to receive a FREE book in the mail each month until their fifth birthday. Start building up your child's at-home library when you sign up today!
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