Smart Beginnings program for preschoolers funded

November 7, 2011

Martinsville Bulletin

The United Way of Henry County and Martinsville has received a three-year, $537,225 Harvest Foundation grant for the Smart Beginnings Martinsville Henry County Initiative, according to a press release.

Smart Beginnings MHC is a coalition of 18 community partners who provide services for children up to the age of 5, their parents and child care providers.

“We appreciate The Harvest Foundation’s support that will allow us to grow our work with parents, caregivers and the community so every child can have a smart beginning in life,” Sheryl Agee, Smart Beginnings MHC director, stated in the release. “We will continue to be dedicated to building an early childhood system that is an effective part of the cradle-to-career education continuum for Martinsville Henry County committed to producing successful students ready for lifelong achievement.”

Over the past several years, Smart Beginnings MHC has reached more than 400 caregivers and parents of small children with education, developmental screenings, and training certification classes for child care providers, said the release. It added that efforts will be enhanced with the grant funds.

Smart Beginnings MHC will expand the Healthy Beginnings partnership to incorporate developmental screenings as standard parts of well-child visits with additional doctors, according to the release. Earlier developmental screenings means earlier detection and intervention, when necessary.

Smart Beginnings also will start a program to help local child care providers receive star-quality ratings through the Virginia Star Quality Initiative or VSQI. Those ratings help parents identify top-quality local child care providers, the release said.

The goal is to help place young children in the best position to succeed by the time they reach school-age.

“Through their work, the Smart Beginnings Coalition has been able to make a collective impact in our community,” said Angela Logan, Harvest Foundation program officer. The coalition has “pulled together partners to work towards a common goal — making sure that every child is ready for school and ready for life. We are delighted with the work they have accomplished, and look forward to their future efforts.”

The Harvest Foundation was established in 2002 from the sale of Memorial Hospital of Martinsville and Henry County. It researches and invests in programs and initiatives to improve health, education, and community vitality.


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