is supposed to help children become ready for school by the time they reach the age of five, but now there is concern over which children will get to take advantage of the program.
Nanette Ausby was prepared when she took kids from her child care center to the state legislature building Tuesday. She brought a petition with more than 3,000 signatures from concerned child care providers across the state.
The proposed budget cuts fundings for four- and five-star facilities, which providers see as a penalty for their hard work.
"Right now, I have three stars, so wanting to go futher is like, 'No, why go further when I am going to be cut off by these other programs?'" she says. "That's why I think this is important."
"Two years ago, we did not have the great teachers. Our turnover rate was 85 percent and it has gone down to five percent, thanks to Smart Start," says child care provider Norma Honeycutt. "So if we lose our Smart Start funding because we are a five-star center, then we lose the quality."
In addition, 30 percent of Smart Start funding goes directly to working families to pay for child care. That money goes through 81 different partnerships in North Carolina from Smart Start.
If the state House and Senate pass the proposal, the money would go through the Department of Social Services, where income guidelines are lower. Many families are concerned that they would no longer get the subsidy they say they desperately need.