Vellani addresses joint study committee on early education …

… Health and Human Services Joint Oversight Committee takes deep dive into early ed programs …

Smart Start CEO Larry Vellani addressed the legislature’s joint oversight committee on early education and family support programs on Thursday February 25 in Raleigh.

Larry presented the legislators with an overview of what’s working in our local pre-k program; what’s not working; and a set of short and long term solutions, from the perspective of our local, Forsyth County practice.

Forsyth County Representative Donny Lambeth is a member of the study committee.DSC_0363

2016_0125 HHS Oversight Study Committee

Joining Larry as local content experts were

  • Doug Punger, JD, retired general counsel for the W-S/Forsyth County School Board, SSFC’s immediate past board chair, one of Governor McCrory’s appointees to the NC Partnership for Children’s board of directors, and Co-Chair of Forsyth County’s NC Pre-K Committee; and
  • Jenny Whitley, MEd, MBA, SSFC’s director of teaching and learning services, a professional educator with more than thirty years’ experience in early learning, and whose responsibilities include the management of the Pre-Kindergarten program in Forsyth County.

Citing the growing bi-partisan support for increased investments in early learning, Larry emphasized that in the early ed arena, “… opinions and facts merge into the common, shared reality that we can, must, and will do more to create a more robust, equitable system of early care and learning””not just in Forsyth County, but for the entire State.”

Larry’s complete written presentation can be read at Study Committee Presentation 2016_0224 .

Larry’s oral remarks can be read at Study Committee Presentation 2016_0225 – 10 minz .

Here’s the one-page summary that Larry presented, as requested by committee staff, in advance of the hearing, Summary Remarks 2016_0223.

The February 25 committee session included a North Carolina who’s-who of private and public, state and local  leaders in early education. A copy of the subcommittee’s full February 25 agenda and roster of speakers can be read here.

Samuel Odom (Frank Porter Graham Child Development Institute, UNC-Chapel Hill) and Kenneth Dodge (Center for Child and Family Policy, Duke University) released to the subcommittee a summary of recent research findings on the Smart Start approach, the NC Pre-K program, and child care subsidies through the federal Child Care Development Fund (CCDF) block grant, respectively. Their presentation also included a comparison of encouraging research findings on North Carolina early learning programs and less encouraging findings of a Tennessee early learning program.

One-page presentation summary, Odom – Synopsis on SS NC PreK .

Complete slide set of the Odom-Dodge presentation, Odom Dodge – SS NCPre-K CCS .

… and some shots of the day’s passing scene …


Doug Punger & Jenny Whitley prepare their notes for the session …



Larry Vellani takes his assigned place … in the background, Cindy Watkins (l) and Pam Shue (r).



Cindy Watkins (r) enjoying the warm up conversations with Zac Everhart (l), NCPC Board Member and Owner of Excel Creative Early Learning in New Bern.



… and follow this link for a fuller sense of the morning’s work … pictures from the Feb 25 hearing.