Get to Know Smart Start of Mecklenburg County

At Smart Start, the mission is quite simple: to ensure every child in our county enters kindergarten healthy and ready to learn. We believe that every young child in Mecklenburg County deserves a smart start in life that will help set them up for success as students, adults and future contributing members of our community.  

As parents and caregivers, Smart Start knows that you also want the very best for your child, which is why we work diligently to fund programs and compile resources to best serve you and your family. From free books to child care subsidies, we fund almost 30 programs to help your child be prepared for kindergarten.  

Below are four examples of the types of programming Smart Start funds in our four mains areas of focus. To see a complete list of funded programs, click here.  

To learn more about Smart Start of Mecklenburg County, visit 

Smart Start of Mecklenburg County Logo
Children and teach in circle time

Early Care and Education (quality and accessibility) 

MECK Pre-K is a Mecklenburg County-funded program that offers a free high-quality Pre-K experience to ensure children are academically and developmentally prepared for kindergarten. Classrooms are located in 4- and 5-star child care centers and children attend a 6.5 hour school day program. 

Mother feeding infant a bottle

Family Support 

Healthy Families Mecklenburg offers first-time mothers individualized, in-home prenatal, parenting, and case management services through their child’s first years. The goal is to reduce risk factors for poor health and safety by empowering families, encouraging healthy lifestyles, enhancing family functioning, and improving access to early intervention, health care, and social services. 

mother with baby and toddler


Guiding Parents to Services  (GPS) works with families whose child has recently been diagnosed with an Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) or exhibits “red flag” behaviors of ASD.  This program, offered at no cost to families with children aged birth to 5, helps refer and connect families with federal, state, and local resources that support the needs of the child as well as caregivers.  Information is shared through a home visiting program, as well as monthly workshops offered at locations throughout Mecklenburg County.  GPS is designed to be a first stop for families as they navigate their personal journey with autism. 

Dolly Parton's Imagination Library Logo

Early Literacy  

The Dolly Parton Imagination Library provides FREE books to all children age 0-4 living in Mecklenburg County. Enrolled children will receive one age-appropriate book each month by mail until their 5th birthday month. 

In addition to funding programming, Smart Start also facilitates county-wide campaigns to support parents and promote early childhood health and wellness.  Meck Basics, a public education campaign, is working with a variety of local partners to ensure that every parent and caregiver has access to important information about early brain development.  The Basics are five fun, simple, and powerful ways to help all children age birth to three grow to be happy and smart.   

Learn more at 

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