CHARLOTTE – Smart Start of Mecklenburg County has launched a series of initiatives to support children and families during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The organization is providing training for parents and early childhood professionals to address ongoing stress, collaborating with family child care providers to adjust their operations and maintain access to care for families, and distributing devices to increase virtual access.
“We know the needs in our community were tremendous before COVID,” said Jake House, CEO of Smart Start of Mecklenburg County. “The pandemic has only accentuated this reality. I’m enormously proud that Smart Start can do our part to work with partners and families to improve circumstances in these challenging times.”
One of the Smart Start initiatives addresses the ongoing stress faced by young children and families.
Resources for Resilience includes self-awareness and self-regulation training for parents and coaching for early childhood professionals.
The program trains adults on what happens to children affected by stress, provides coaching to support resiliency tools and includes a schedule of drop-in listening circles for parents and educators to discuss strategies.
Smart Start is also supporting family child care directors to ensure critical access to child care.
In September, there were more than 1,300 family child care homes in North Carolina, serving almost 8,700 children.
Smart Start is helping these providers by offering access to Wonderschool, a platform for family child care and small centers. Wondershool delivers digital tools and training to help providers adjust to business challenges caused by the pandemic and to improve communication with parents.
Smart Start is supporting these initiatives, as well as parenting education and home visiting programs, by providing access to technology for families and early childhood professionals. The organization is distributing 35 tablets to local families.
Families and early childhood professionals interested in participating in these initiatives should contact Jennifer Stamp, director of planning and evaluation, at firstname.lastname@example.org.