March 18, 2020

Greetings Smart Start of Forsyth County Community:

When we first opened our doors, we did so with the mission to mobilize resources, forge partnerships, and shape public opinion to build and sustain an affordable, comprehensive, high-quality system of early childhood development and learning. Since then, we have always taken our responsibility to protect the well-being of our students and community seriously. It is with that responsibility in mind that we make our decision in these unprecedented times, where we know that childcare providers and partners are concerned about providing a healthy and reliable workplace for all employees while remaining resourceful for the children served. We recognize that you may need to make difficult choices regarding temporary business hours, and decision is not made lightly.

We support the collective fight against COVID-19 by following guidance from public health authorities as we recognize and understand that practicing social distancing and reducing dense public gatherings as much as possible is critically important at this time. This is truly a global effort that requires all our community participation. Support our partnership and join us in a united effort by getting local updates by the Forsyth County Department of Health. In addition, please read the provided detailed guidance intended to help child care facilities make informed decisions about COVID-19 and minimize the risk of exposure to both the staff and the children in their care. We continue to work daily to ensure that you have the necessary information to keep yourself and your families healthy by communicating and sharing operational safety changes. To minimize risk to our staff, children, and families, our office is closed to the public March 20, 2020 to April 5, 2020 and the following procedures are incorporated.

We follow our current teleworking policy to the greatest extent possible. Staff has access to their email and voicemail while teleworking. They also have portable laptops and hotspots for internet services, if applicable. Our key staff has staggered in-office schedules to ensure mail is managed, deposits are made, and checks are processed with no disruption of payments.

Service Delivery to Child Care Providers, Families, and Children:
• All non-essential professional development trainings through April 5, 2020 are cancelled or postponed.
• In-person technical assistance visits to childcare facilities are cancelled until further notice. Any direct technical assistance and training to childcare personnel will be provided by phone and email only.
• We’ve upgraded our IT services to include Zoom meetings, expanded bandwidth, hot spots, phone reception service, and a Share Drive to conduct virtual visits with families, staff, report submissions, and community meetings. All resources and activities will be shared with families electronically.
• Playgroups are discontinued, with information and activities for families being shared electronically.

While this remains a challenging time for us all, we are inspired by all of you and the support of this community. We’d like to thank each one of you who continue to serve our children with enthusiasm, dedication, and resilience as we persevere through these short-term limitations and restrictions. Your patience and navigation throughout this evolving public health emergency is greatly appreciated and like you, we remain committed to supporting our community. Continue to visit our website and social channels, for our most recent updates and resources. Please visit our website at https://smartstart-fc.org/ and stay connected with us on:

• Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/SmartStartofForsythCounty
• Twitter: https://smartstart-fc.org/
• YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/user/ncsmartstart

For the betterment of children and families in Forsyth County, I remain, yours truly,

Louis A. Finney Jr.