Smart Start is North Carolina's nationally recognized comprehensive initiative to improve its early care and education system with the goal of ensuring that all children under kindergarten age are healthy and prepared for school. For the first 10 years of Smart Start (1993-2003), a team of researchers at the Frank Porter Graham Child Development Institute conducted the statewide evaluation of Smart Start. Members of the multidisciplinary evaluation team were from UNC's Schools of Education, Public Health, and Social Work.
The evaluation team conducted dozens of studies of Smart Start and developed an evaluation notebook to assist local Smart Start partnership evaluators. Major evaluation projects included measuring changes in child care quality, family functioning, and children's receipt of health services, as well as the long-term outcome of school success. Additional evaluation projects focused on other components of the Smart Start initiative, such as the planning and implementation process of partnership start-up, collaboration among service agencies, the public-private partnership in communities, and special studies addressing particular services funded through Smart Start.