For more than 20 years, Durham’s Partnership for Children has been charged with identifying needs and mobilizing partners to serve young children, birth to age 5, in Durham County. Founded as part of the state-wide early childhood initiative known as Smart Start, the Partnership leverages public and private sectors to support comprehensive approaches to serving all of Durham’s young children and their families.

And their work is essential. It is the work of The Partnership that addresses a critical and ongoing need across the state; ensuring that children enter school prepared to learn. Their comprehensive programs have expanded access to early care and education in the first five years of life for children; a solution that works. A child’s early years are a crucial window to create the best possible outcomes in education, health and economic prosperity, and to build a successful future both for individuals and for our community

Early childhood education has a lasting impact, strengthening our economy by supporting the current workforce and allowing parents to work and go to school, while also cultivating a better future workforce. Thanks to Partnership programs, more Durham families receive the support and resources they need, more child care centers can improve the quality of early education and support their teachers, and more parents can access affordable child care.

All Partnership programs are monitored and evaluated to meet state-wide benchmarks and ensure that this work is making an impact in the community. The Partnership’s programs include:

Smart Start, which provides funding for many early education and health and family support programs, including: child care referrals, child care scholarships, home visiting services, parent education and support groups, and interventions for children with challenging behaviors.

Durham Early Head Start, which provides comprehensive family services for pregnant women and children birth to age 3.

NC Pre-K, which provides high-quality early education for 4-year-olds who meet eligibility criteria.

Durham’s Transition to Kindergarten Initiative, a collaboration between the Partnership and Durham Public Schools, which helps rising kindergartners and their parents get ready to enter school through a series of events and school readiness resources.

Training and resources for professionals who work with families with young children.

Here is why their work matters:

There are approximately 23,000 children birth to age 5 living in Durham County.

16.5% of children in Durham are obese.

28.1% of children 0-5 live below Federal Poverty Level (FPL) and 51.9% live in low-income households (below 200% FPL).

There are more than 3,000 children on waiting lists for child care scholarships.

18% of families below 200% FPL have had their employment affected by child care related issues.

29% of children 0-5 are enrolled in licensed, regulated child care programs. 76% of these children attend 4- or 5-star facilities.

64% of child care centers are 4-or 5-star facilities.

While there are partnerships serving all 100 counties in North Carolina, there is only one partnership with an apostrophe in the name, Durham’s Partnership for Children. That is because the organization doesn’t just operate in Durham, they believe that they belong to Durham and are deeply committed to serving the needs of young children and families.