By Cara Beth Lewis
Bladen Smart Start is a partnership for children. Their mission is to ensure that every Bladen County child, birth to five years old, has an equal and fair opportunity for success. The program offers various outreaches and collaborations to serve children in the community.
Bladen Smart Start currently offers Raising a Reader, Color Me Healthy, Be Active Kids, Motheread Story Exploring, Bladen Community Outreach & Development, and the Dolly Parton Imagination Library. They also collaborate with the local Department of Social Services to provide substantial funding for Subsidy to assist families with funding assistance for daycare services.
The Dolly Parton Imagination Library is a program that allows children from birth to age five to receive a free book every month. The application is accessible at the link: https://www.bladensmartstart.
Kayla Brianne, Program Manager, told Bladen Online, “We are currently housing the Adverse Childhood Experiences project in collaboration with Prevent Child Abuse NC while awaiting the opportunity to be fully funded for the project by the Kate B. Reynolds Charitable Trust Fund. In hopes of being funded, we plan to continue the work in our community in collaboration with our local Bladen Resilient Coalition as well as Robeson and Columbus County.”
Bladen Smart Start is governed by a volunteer Board of Directors, representing Business/Community, Government, and Services. The full Board of Directors meets every other month and on the last Wednesday of the month (July, September, November, January, March and May). Meetings are open to the public and minutes are a matter of public record.
As a non-profit organization, Bladen Smart Start is funded by the state, and required to meet a program match via fundraising. Donations are accepted at P.O. Box 2255 Elizabethtown, NC 28337.