N.C. Department of Correction--Correction News--June 1998

DOC Helps Spread Smart Start Message

HICKORY — To the squeals and delights of little children in Catawba County, Correction Secretary Mack Jarvis read to the pint-sized group about a police officer and his faithful dog, Gloria.

The reading was part of Gov. Jim Hunt's request to his cabinet secretaries and their staffs to visit day care centers and talk to civic groups about the benefits of the Smart Start Program.

Gov. Hunt's goal is to make sure North Carolinians have the best quality of life for children by having good, affordable child care, health care and family support. He wants the public to know that Smart Start is not just for poor folks, but for middle class families as well.

After visiting a successful Smart Start program at A Child's View Day Care Center in Hickory, Jarvis spoke to the Lake Hickory Rotary Club. Jarvis reminded the group how Gov. Hunt was able to turn around a troubled prison system, adding 15,000 new beds, putting community punishment programs in 82 counties and making inmates work. The crime rate has dropped.

"If the 150,000 men and women currently under Department of Correction supervision had a healthy start in their young lives, the majority would most likely be leading more productive lives," Jarvis told the group."As a parent and a grandparent, I'm concerned about my children's future and yours. Smart Start reaches children during the most critical years of development, so they arrive at school healthy, motivated and ready to learn. Every child should have this opportunity."

Smart Start is helping working families get better child care, more spaces, better teachers, health and vision screening and parent education.

This state has more working mothers than almost any other. Good, affordable child care is a critical need for families.

Smart Start meets that need in 55 counties. In the other 45 counties, planning is underway, but children and parents aren't yet getting direct Smart Start services.

Gov. Hunt wants Smart Start fully funded in all 100 counties. The Governor is asking the Legislature to provide $57 million to get Smart Start up and running in every single county, so every child can come to school healthy and ready to learn.

"More than half the people in prison test below an eighth-grade education," Jarvis said. "We can do something about this now, so that in the future, we don't have thousands of underachievers being locked away. We've turned the prison system around, and it's time now to look at the root of the problem by giving every child a good, solid start to life. Everyone has the right to a healthy, Smart Start."

As in the book, Officer Buckle and Gloria, Jarvis was upstaged by the department's drug dog which accompanied him to the day care center. The children were happy to see Arras, and petted him with great enthusiasm. u

NC DOC Correction News- June 1998
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