Welcome to Craven Smart Start, Inc.

Appreciating the “Unsung Heroes of Craven County”

Click HERE to see pictures of our visits to our childcare providers. Thank you for your dedication to the children of Craven County!

Pre-Kindergarten Registration Information

The Pre-Kindergarten application purpose is to determine the eligibility of your 4-year old for the North Carolina Pre-Kindergarten, Title 1 and/or Head Start Programs offered in Craven County.
Parents interested in applying should visit https://www.cravenk12.org/domain/251 for more information.

Referrals to child care programs

Click HERE to visit Child Care Resource and Referral Region 2 webpage

The State of North Carolina is urging all families who can keep their children at home, with a responsible adult, to do so.

Emergency and first responders and critical workers needing referrals to child care programs that are open and operating for children ages birth to twelve should call the statewide toll–free number listed below for assistance:

1-888-600-1685 (Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.)

Callers to be served include:

Emergency and first responders
Hospital staff
Nursing and adult group home staff
Frontline health care providers
Child care program staff
Food service staff
Families of children who are homeless, receiving child welfare services, and/or in unstable or unsafe living arrangements
Others who are working to keep North Carolinians safe and healthy

Please note:   Effective April 1st,  the only licensed child care programs that are allowed to operate in North Carolina are those which have agreed to meet additional health, safety,  and other requirements specified by the NC  Division of Child Development and Early Education (DCDEE) and have been specifically authorized by DCDEE to remain open in April and May 2020.

Click on the links below for more information

Flyer – English

Flyer – Spanish

Craven Smart Start Board Meeting

Due to COVID 19, January’s Board Meeting will be held via Zoom.

January 27th, 2020
Time 1:00PM

To receive information on how to join the meeting, please email cherie@cravensmartstart.org

Our office is currently closed

However, all staff are teleworking and here to assist the community with questions and concerns. There are two ways to contact staff:

1) Call our office at (252) 636-3198. When the voice message comes on, please press # for the directory. Please leave a message when directed. Staff will be checking voicemails several times a day.

2) You may also email staff. A current directory of staff can be found at: https://www.cravensmartstart.org/about-us/staff/. Click on the name to email.

Thank you for your patience during these ever changing times.

Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library!

Sign up HERE for the Dolly Parton Imagination Library for free!

Smart Start and Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library are working together to get books into the hands of North Carolina’s youngest children. 
In 2017, North Carolina’s state lawmakers included $3.5 million in the first year and $7 million in the second year of the state budget for Smart Start to administer Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library across North Carolina.

The Smart Start network, made up of 75 local partnerships that serve our state’s communities, is signing up families across NC for Imagination Library which is a book gifting program for children from birth to age five. Together, we are working to ensure children develop a love of reading early on.

Please consider a donation to Craven Smart Start – Click HERE to donate.
For just $25, Craven Smart Start and Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library can provide one child, in Craven County, age appropriate books, every month, for one year!

Why support Craven Smart Start?

Early Childhood Education
Young children often come to Kindergarten unprepared to learn.  Craven Smart Start initiates and funds programs in Craven County that address kindergarten readiness. Craven Smart Start also collaborates with other community organizations to support young children and their families.

We believe when young children are given the opportunity to reach their full potential, that they will become loving, nurturing independent individuals who will contribute to their families, communities, and society. We believe that all children, when surrounded by a supportive community, can achieve economic success and experience the highest quality of life. 


Economic Impact
With funding from The Harold H. Bate Foundation, Craven Smart Start commissioned East Carolina University to create a report to show the numerous economic benefits that the child care industry brings to our local economy. Child care is an important industry in Craven County, North Carolina, with wide-ranging effects on those who work in that sector and utilize its services. However, it also has a broader impact on economic activity throughout Craven County. This study uses Economic Impact Analysis (EIA) and IMPLAN (an economic modeling software package that is widely used for estimating the economic effects of a given industry), as well as a survey of parents and guardians who use child care services in Craven County, to estimate the breadth of impact of the child care industry on the county.  To view this report, please click HERE.

Advocating for Parents and Supporting Childcare Professionals
Craven Smart Start supports childcare professionals by providing continuing education to ensure quality care for all children, and by supporting the WAGE$ program in Craven County which provides needed supplements for childcare professionals so that they may move closer to earning a living wage. To understand more, please watch the video below.

See this LINK for Child Care WAGE$® Program North Carolina 2018-2019 Annual Report.

Creating a loving, caring, sharing community for children through health, education, economic development, and socialization.

Click on the First 2000 Days graphic to learn more




Office Hours:  Monday – Friday, 8:00 AM-5:00 PM

  • Craven Smart Start, Inc. is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization that administers Smart Start funds and programs in Craven County. Smart Start is designed to ensure that young children enter school healthy and ready to succeed. Donations are tax deductible. Financial information about this organization and copy of its license are available from the State Solicitation Licensing Branch at 919-807-2214. The license is not an endorsement by the State.