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NC Businesses Step Forward to Protect Early Childhood Education

March 24, 2011

RALEIGH, N.C. - As state lawmakers try to make up for the budget shortfall, some North Carolina business leaders say early-childhood education programs are integral to the success of their business.

More than 50 business leaders joined former Gov. Jim Hunt this week to take that message to legislators who are considering cutting or eliminating programs such as Smart Start. That program provides education and support for children age birth to 5 years and their parents.

Todd Hildebran, a Republican who owns Hildebran Management Consulting, says he'd rather make an investment in the lives of children from their beginning.

"I see the money that we spend on children as the most inexpensive way to prepare them for education, instead of paying the long-term effects of having a child that is uneducated."

Early-learning programs in North Carolina are credited with making it possible for 380,000 parents to work. Those families earn more than $12 billion annually, and Hildebran says that money goes back into communities.

"If we provide quality daycare, we are able to bring in quality employees for some of the top companies and corporations that we want to bring to North Carolina."

An independent study from Duke University, released last week, found that children in counties that received more Smart Start funding performed better on third-grade end-of-year tests.

Stephanie Carroll Carson, Public News Service - NC