Senate plan dangerous to county
We have seen a trio of budget plans introduced in Raleigh that have their pros and cons.
And, while state lawmakers continue to debate tax plans, spending and various other issues surrounding the state's fiscal house over the next week, there is one thing to point out.
In the Senate's budget proposal, there is one measure that will have a lasting, dangerous impact on a statewide program with local implications.
Under the Senate plan, local Department of Social Service offices will being administering child care subsidies now being directed by the Partnership for Children of the Foothills.
According to a story in Wednesday's issue of The Daily Courier, that amounts to a 40 percent administrative cut to Smart Start.
Additionally, the program could be affected by changes in eligibility criteria and other cuts siphoned into the budget plan.
It all amounts to dangerous ground for the Partnership.
The purpose of Smart Start is to help children from birth to 5 years of age prepare for school.
Making frivolous cuts and shifting other administration responsibilities on the state level will have a lasting, negative effect on the program that can impact the future of our children.
We don't have a rhyme or reason as to why the Senate would choose to target a program like Smart Start for these cuts and placing child care subsidies within DSS will do nothing more than compound the already heavy workload on staff.
It certainly can't be because Smart Start is a failing program.
During a meeting of the Partnership for Children in Rutherford County, it was touted that programs within Smart Start have been thriving. Programs like Motherlearn — which helps mothers finish their high school education while providing child care — have seen 20-30 percent graduation rates among the program participants compared to 5 percent in the past.
The fact remains that we believe Smart Start is one of those programs the state does not need to adjust, cut or augment in any way.
With an aggressive education plan in the works, we have to look at all programs that ready our children for school and prepares their parents for those endeavors.
If the state wants to improve the state's education system, the last thing it needs to do is make cuts to programs that are working towards that improvement.
By Matthew Clark, for the Editorial Board
The Daily Courier Editorial Board consists of community members Jerry Brewer, Kyle Bingham, Tom Padgett, Dr. Shermaine Surratt and Cliff Strassenburg as well as Editor Matthew Clark