“Free the child’s potential, and you will transform him into the world.”

Maria Montessori


Our Mission

Wake County Smart Start (WCSS) is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. Our mission is to build the capacity of families and the community to prepare children for success in school and in life.

Learn more about our priorities.

Our Beliefs

WCSS believes that each child has the potential to do great things! We also believe:

  • Learning begins at birth
  • All children deserve the best opportunities for learning and development
  • Families and communities play a critical role in children’s learning
  • Collaboration is essential to accomplish our vision

Our Core Values

WCSS is guided by a set of core values that define what is important to us as an organization and are the basic elements of how we go about our work. These core values affect how we interact not only with our community’s children and families, but also with each other.

Learn more about our core values.

What We Do

WCSS works to improve the quality, accessibility and affordability of child care, provide preventive health and early intervention services and offer family support services—all delivered as part of a strong, diverse integrated early childhood system.

Our work is truly collaborative. WCSS’ funded partners provide direct services for children and their families. Community volunteers, staff members, child care providers, schools, civic organizations and local businesses all strive to realize WCSS’ mission and build a strong foundation for children’s learning and development beginning at birth.

Learn more about our programs.

Our Origins

Smart Start was established in 1993 as a statewide, public/private partnership under the leadership of Governor James B. Hunt, Jr. In order to “make North Carolina’s schools the best in America.” Governor Hunt identified five goals, the first of which was that “Every child must start school healthy and ready to learn.”

WCSS was officially formed in 1996. WCSS is part of a network of 75 nonprofit local partnerships led by The North Carolina Partnership for Children, Inc. (NCPC).

Our Funding

The State of North Carolina is our largest source of funding. In addition, The John Rex Endowment funds two of our programs, Wake Connections and Farm to Child Care.



2019-20 Fact Sheet: English Spanish