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Greenville- Access to high-quality child care, support for families, availability of programs and services to meet basic needs, and collaboration among community organizations were voted the top priorities that would make the greatest, lasting impact on the lives of young children in Eastern North Carolina. The voting took place at the Smart Investing: Communities Thrive When Children Thrive summit in Greenville on March 2.

More than 200 community members from Eastern North Carolina, including a delegation from Johnston County, determined that these are the primary issues community groups and policymakers should focus on to improve the lives of young children. The group also brainstormed action steps to make the priorities a reality locally. 

Tuesday’s summit reconvened delegates from Eastern counties who are part of the Smart Investing public engagement initiative. Funded by the Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation and with support from Lt. Governor Walter Dalton and Smart Start, Smart Investing: Communities Thrive When Children Thrive, brings together a diverse mix of citizens in communities throughout the state to determine how best to invest in children birth to five, and thereby the state as a whole.

{mosimage}The final votes reflect work that began last fall when Smart Start's 77 partnerships leveraged their networks to assemble delegations of local parents, business leaders, health care providers, education professionals and policy makers representing every county. The delegations created a list of top priorities at local forums held across the state. Yesterday, participants were asked to narrow down the list to the top four priorities that if given time, attention, and resources by individuals, community, and government, would make the greatest lasting impact on preparing young children to become productive, healthy, and fully-engaged adults. 

"Johnston County is keenly aware that our young children are our greatest resource," stated Dwight Morris, Executive Director of the Partnership for Children of Johnston County.  “By capitalizing on the strong collaboration in our county we can make sure that basic needs are met as well as provide quality early care for children and support services that our families deserve."

The Johnston County delegation included Partnership for Children Executive Director, Dr. Dwight Morris; Smithfield-Selma Chamber of Commerce Information Specialist, Brandy Crocker; Vice-President of Capital Bank, Jason Hardy; Johnston-Lee-Harnett Community Action Communications Specialist, Crystal Roberts; Johnston Community College Small Business Director, Rosa Andrews; Smithfield Parks and Recreation Director Tim Johnson;  and Johnston County Schools Student Affairs Director, Dr. Oliver Johnson.

For more information on programs and services offered by the Partnership for Children of Johnston County call 202-0002 or visit