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Smart Start is North Carolina’s comprehensive, community-based initiative to improve the early care and education (ECE) system. Serving children under age 6 and their families, the main long-term goal of this initiative is to ensure that all children are healthy and prepared to succeed in school. Smart Start has been a leading example of the “reinventing government” movement wherein government sets performance objectives and provides flexibility to communities in how to meet them. Smart Start empowers communities to make their own decisions about how best to improve their ECE system. Other states and communities have used the initiative as a model when designing new early childhood initiatives.

Advised by early childhood experts and backed by major business leaders, both Republicans and Democrats, then-Governor Jim Hunt and ...

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