Local Politics

Halifax Smart Start program faces chopping block

Posted April 6, 2011

— Talk of spending cuts as state lawmakers grapple with a nearly $2.4 billion budget gap prompted the decision to shut down a Smart Start program in Halifax County.

The White Oak Parent/Child Center in Enfield provides child care, parent training and health screenings for children before they reach kindergarten.

Parents say their children have learned social skills and grown to love school through the center.

"She was afraid of everybody. She was shy. She wouldn't go to anyone," mother Crystal Ward said of her daughter, Crizaria Alston. "She has come out of the shell that she was in."

"It's amazing how much he improved within two months," Robyn Hilliard said of her son.

"They come home every day to tell me what they did in school for that day," mother Edna Richardson said.

Recently, the Halifax-Warren Smart Start Partnership for Children, which runs the center, announced that it would cut off funding by the end of June.

That will leave 40 children without a program and eight workers without a job. Some parents said they will likely have to cut the hours they work.

"This is a rural community. They will have to go from 25 to 30 miles just to find quality child care," White Oak school administrator Queen Boyd said.

smart start Halifax Smart Start program faces chopping block

Magda Baligh, executive director of the Halifax-Warren Smart Start Partnership for Children, said she was directed by the North Carolina Partnership for Children to expect a 25 percent budget cut.

That cut means they won't have the funds to keep running the center, she said.

"This is what happens when the General Assembly cuts funds for early childhood (education). Families get hurt, and services get cut," Baligh said. "We can't continue to provide the same services without the same kind of funding."

Negotiations on the state budget for the next fiscal year are just beginning, and the funding levels for Smart Start haven't been set.

Some lawmakers have proposed merging Smart Start with another early childhood education program, More at Four. They say the merger would run the programs more efficiently.

"The approach that's being discussed is trying to evaluate effectiveness and whether we can make it a better program," Rep. Hugh Blackwell, R-Burke, said.

Gov. Bev Perdue has proposed cutting each program's budget by 5 percent. This year, Smart Start received $182 million in state funding, and More at Four got $160 million.

Parents said they hope that their children's center will stay open.

"Without this program, where are our children going to go?" Richardson said.


This story is closed for comments.

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  • crysalston Apr 7, 2011

    I would jus lik to say there r some very ignorant & selfish people in this world especially some of u who posted all of those negative comments. None of u have the right to judge anyone in any given situation, but there will be a judgement day & man won't have a say so only the Lord. I am a single mother of 3 & have worked diligently to provide & further my education for the sake of my children & myself. Your not the only one paying tax money. I work so I know that my tax $$ r funding a great deal of things that I don't approve of, but anything that involves children & their education I'm all for it. So know the facts about the whole situation & not what was just aired before u run your traps. The parents of the center was paying tuition for their children to attend. This program was cut by a local board in Halifax who was given false information to close it. There are many things that have not come to the light in this matter, but they will be revealed & I'm goin to leave it at that.

  • angel39852003 Apr 7, 2011

    You know it is real funny to read different comments from "adults" about different stories posted on this website. It's funny to know how many people are actually inconsiderate & ignorant of different things.

  • angel39852003 Apr 7, 2011

    To all of you saying "if you can't afford children don't have them" are showing your ignorance. I hope none of you lose your high paying jobs and have to rely on the government for assistance. Not everyone on welfare wants to be on it forever.

  • whatusay Apr 6, 2011

    Years ago the mother did not work, she stayed home with her children. Then came LBJ and welfare, medicare, medicaid and another dozen social programs. Women joined the workforce when the government started taking over the family. Paying women to have kids without a father in the household. Everytime she had another child, a raise. Eventually the government was the only place they could turn to. Welfare, free school breakfast, free school lunch, free child care, free food, subsidized housing. It has now been instilled in their lives to depend on the government for survival.....for your vote. Vote democrat, and vote often.

  • whatusay Apr 6, 2011

    pittmanc94, if the parents pay for this it can't be defunded and should not even be discussed as "being on the chopping block". Are you saying no tax dollars are being spent on the Smart Start program?

  • pittmanc94 Apr 6, 2011

    Ppl are so igorant! I have been following this since February. For the ones that do not know this! Here is a lil information for you.. 1. The parents pay tution and they are the ONLY SMART START CENTER IN N.C. THAT PAYS TUTION.. 2. THE PARENTS HAVE ASKED THE LOCAL BOARD COULD THEY PAY MORE MONEY & CUT OUT THE SUMMER MONTHS.. 3. THE PROGRAM FUND OTHER PROGRAMS THAT DOES NOT FOCUS DIRECTLY ON THE CHILDREN. 4. THE EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR MAKES MORE MONEY THAN THE EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR DOES IN WAKE, GUILFORD, & ALAMANCE COUNTY... So to the igorant ones do your research like I did & you will found out alot of information that could not be put on TV or in the newspaper. STOP JUDGING PPL BEACUSE OF A LIL INFORMATION YOU GOT.. I have seen alot of ppl educating ther child/children the best they can while they work 2 jobs to keep ther family together. So while the parents are working who are educating ther small child/children???

  • Telman Apr 6, 2011

    Good move. What started out as an endeavor to help children has been perverted into a free baby sitting service by some. And just like any other service the innocent will be punished along with the guilty. I hope this is the start of a lot of closings. As far as having to drive so far for quality chidcare, anyone with any ambition would see this as opportunity for a home based business for children of parents who really want whats best for them verses those who just want them out of the house.

  • whatusay Apr 6, 2011

    AnnaMarieisaproudmamma.....Do you know where money comes from?, do you ever care? Working Americans have to pay taxes, and you think those taxes should be for social welfare programs???? I don't think so. I believe my tax dollars should be paid for national defense. Beyond that, I don't believe any of it should be used to support people who can not afford childrens day care. Social programs are killing this country. I support my family. I should not be required to support anyone else's.

    Work or starve, or move in with other family members. That was what Americans did before LBJ started welfare programs and the country was better off. You might have some poor kids, some rich kids, but that was life. Today everyone believes they need a hand-out from government (which means me). I raised 3 kids, have 8 grandchildren, worked all my life, am retired, and still HATE WELFARE. Welfare will be the destruction of America.

  • AMHall82 Apr 6, 2011

    "If it were we would not be spendign 40% of every tax dollar on entitlements." - whatusay

    So, nevermind the 60% spent on Administration, then, right? That's perfectly ok, to pay all of those outrageous salaries and offer those outrageous benefits, while people who work just as hard or harder make menial salaries, and some even have to depend on assistance - from the government or family or friends, the source isn't important - just to survive?

    My family & I "survive" without assistance, but it's tough. It's tough because we pay the price for high quality child care, ON TOP of paying for our own health insurance for our child, ADDED to spending an average of $200 per month on our child's medications. But that just means we're willing to work to make sure our child has the best chance. Doesn't mean if we weren't willing to work so hard for it that our son wouldn't still deserve it!

  • whatusay Apr 6, 2011

    AnnaMarieisaprougmamma says," Punish the CHILD for the ignorant parent's mistake? This isn't about the parent, this is about the child. Is a child any less worthy of a proper education simply because their mother couldn't "afford" to have them but did it anyway?"

    Sorry, but you still miss the point. The parents should be responsible for the children, "NOT THE GOVERNMENT". Forget government entitlements. What can the parents do? If the answer is nothing, social services should decide if the kids should be put up for adoption. There are lots of alternatives to help kids without depending on the government to "SUPPORT THE PARENTS", instead of the kids. Paying for child care is only another form of welfare to the parents/parent and they will bleed it until the kids are grown. Stop depending on government to solve "family problems".