Smart Start 'achieving goals,' UNC center report indicates

June 06, 2002

(Embargoed) CHAPEL HILL -- An annual evaluation of the state Smart Start initiative concludes that its "goals of better child care, improved well-being of families and greater health resources are being achieved," according to researchers at the FPG Child Development Institute at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

"Evidence shows that children who have attended child-care centers that are very involved in Smart Start activities are more prepared for kindergarten," said lead researcher Dr. Donna Bryant, a senior scientist at the institute.

The report, scheduled for release Thursday (June 6), is a compilation of recent Smart Start studies by the UNC center FPG, and is done under contract to the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services, Division of Child Development.

Three waves of data collection in 1994,1996 and 1999 at hundreds of child-care centers showed significant improvement in the quality of child care over time, Bryant said. "Compared to 1994, almost twice as many classrooms in 1999 were rated as providing 'good' to 'excellent' care. Centers participating in more Smart Start quality improvement activities were likely to have higher scores."

Another sign of quality improvement is that the number of N.C. centers that are nationally accredited rose from 28 in 1992 to 170 in 2000.

A 2001 study showed that the new 5-star state rating system for child-care centers was significantly related to both observed quality and several other indicators of program quality. "Parents and policy makers should be assured that centers with higher star ratings are indeed providing high quality care for young children," Bryant said.

The number of children receiving immunizations and developmental screenings also has increased substantially since 1996, according to the report. A recent study of more than 2,000 children showed that those who had participated in any type of Smart Start health intervention were "significantly more likely to have a regular source of health care and to have had DPT and polio vaccines than children who had not participated in Smart Start," Bryant said.

Smart Start is helping meet the needs of families by helping centers and family child-care homes serve more children, including adding spaces for special age groups, and helping subsidize the cost of child care in licensed centers and family child-care homes, she said. The number of new Smart Start-funded child care spaces rose from about 1,300 in 1996 to almost 9,000 in 2001.

"Smart Start is more than the sum of its parts," Bryant said. "A recent study showed how central the individual partnerships have become in their local service systems. The more central they became, the more improved was the service system. Gaps in services were reduced, duplication of services was reduced and providers were more aware of other resources that could be offered to families. The local Smart Start partnership was perceived to have played a key role in these improvements."
-end-
The 2002 Annual Evaluation Report for Smart Start as well as other FPG studies involving Smart Start is online at www.fpg.unc.edu/smartstart. The official Smart Start web site is www.smartstart-nc.org.

Note: Bryant can be reached at 919-966-4523 or bryant@mail.fpg.unc.edu.
FPG Contact: Loyd Little, 919-966-0867 or Loyd_Little@unc.edu
News Services Contact: David Williamson, (919) 962-8596

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Related Health Care Articles from Brightsurf:

Study evaluates new World Health Organization Labor Care Guide for maternity care providers
The World Health Organization developed the new Labor Care Guide to support clinicians in providing good quality, women-centered care during labor and childbirth.

Six ways primary care "medical homes" are lowering health care spending
New analysis of 394 U.S. primary care practices identifies the aspects of care delivery that are associated with lower health care spending and lower utilization of emergency care and hospital admissions.

Modifiable health risks linked to more than $730 billion in US health care costs
Modifiable health risks, such as obesity, high blood pressure, and smoking, were linked to over $730 billion in health care spending in the US in 2016, according to a study published in The Lancet Public Health.

Spending on primary care vs. other US health care expenditures
National health care survey data were used to assess the amount of money spent on primary care relative to other areas of health care spending in the US from 2002 to 2016.

MU Health Care neurologist publishes guidance related to COVID-19 and stroke care
A University of Missouri Health Care neurologist has published more than 40 new recommendations for evaluating and treating stroke patients based on international research examining the link between stroke and novel coronavirus (COVID-19).

Large federal program aimed at providing better health care underfunds primary care
Despite a mandate to help patients make better-informed health care decisions, a ten-year research program established under the Affordable Care Act has funded a relatively small number of studies that examine primary care, the setting where the majority of patients in the US receive treatment.

International medical graduates care for Medicare patients with greater health care needs
A study by a Massachusetts General Hospital research team indicates that internal medicine physicians who are graduates of medical schools outside the US care for Medicare patients with more complex medical needs than those cared for by graduates of American medical schools.

The Lancet Global Health: Improved access to care not sufficient to improve health, as epidemic of poor quality care revealed
Of the 8.6 million deaths from conditions treatable by health care, poor-quality care is responsible for an estimated 5 million deaths per year -- more than deaths due to insufficient access to care (3.6 million) .

Under Affordable Care Act, Americans have had more preventive care for heart health
By reducing out-of-pocket costs for preventive treatment, the Affordable Care Act appears to have encouraged more people to have health screenings related to their cardiovascular health.

High-deductible health care plans curb both cost and usage, including preventive care
A team of researchers based at IUPUI has conducted the first systematic review of studies examining the relationship between high-deductible health care plans and the use of health care services.

Read More: Health Care News and Health Care Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.