Our Mission

Our mission: To ensure every child in Durham enters school ready to succeed, we lead community strategies for children birth to 5 and their families that promote healthy development and learning and enhance access to high quality care

Durham’s Partnership for Children (the Partnership) is the convener and facilitator of Durham’s early childhood system. We are deeply committed to serving the needs of our community’s young children and families, and in fact, we are the only Partnership in the state with an apostrophe in our name. We don’t just operate in Durham, we belong to Durham.

The Partnership is charged with identifying needs and mobilizing partners to serve all 23,000 young children in Durham. We oversee the whole county’s birth to 5 population and are responsible for leveraging the public and private sectors to support comprehensive approaches to serving all of Durham’s young children and their families.

The Partnership was founded in 1994 to administer North Carolina’s pioneering early childhood initiative, Smart Start, in Durham County. This initiative, launched by former Governor Jim B. Hunt, Jr., was created as a public-private partnership to address a critical state-wide problem: children were coming to school unprepared to learn. Providing comprehensive programs and access to early care and education in the first 5 years of life is the solution. With intent to inspire innovation and have strong governance on a local level, the Smart Start early childhood system was, and continues to be, a broad network of independent, private organizations working in all 100 North Carolina counties.

Our programs include:

  • Smart Start, which provides funding for many early education and health and family support programs, including: child care referrals, child care scholarships, home visiting services, parent education and support groups, and interventions for children with challenging behaviors.
  • Durham Early Head Start, which provides comprehensive family services for pregnant women and children birth to age 3.
  • NC Pre-K, which provides high-quality early education for 4-year-olds who meet eligibility criteria.
  • Durham’s Transition to Kindergarten Initiative, a collaboration between the Partnership and Durham Public Schools, which helps rising kindergartners and their parents get ready to enter school through a series of events and school readiness resources.
  • Training and resources for professionals who work with families with young children.