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Durham's Smart Start Program Will Leave Some Without A Dime

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DURHAM — Durham's Partnership for Children decides which agencies receive funds from the Durham county Smart Start allocation, and some groups are left out.

Pre-schoolers, from some of Durham's toughest neighborhoods learn how to behave in the classroom, before they even get there. Other tiny Durham residents take an afternoon time-out in a free daycare program. A program that allows their parents a chance to work themselves out of poverty. These are just two of the Smart Start funded programs of the Northeast Central Durham Resource Center. A center that will be cut-off from Smart Start funding June 30.

Sherry George said that she cannot put a price on what the center's "Helping Parents Help Children" program did for her and her young son Tyrell.

"These ladies were there for me," George said. "They treated me like they were concerned about me as an individual. They didn't do it because it was their job, they put their heart-felt self into what they do."

Durham's Partnership for Children distributes Smart Start funding to the many local agencies that request it. Northeast Central Durham's director does not know why they are not on the list.

"I do not know why," director Shirley Payton said. "I have been trying to get an answer for that. I know that it was competitive. I know that it was a decision by the board. I don't understand because we are indeed serving one of the most needy populations in the city of Durham. I don't think anyone in this whole city or state could deny that."

Durham's Partnership for Children said that there is not enough Smart Start money to go around, but there is hope for Northeast Central Durham. The governor asked the legislature for and additional $1.6 million for Durham county, which would allow the center to be fully funded.


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