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Advocates Raise Alarms Over Crucial Funding Drying Up For Child Care Programs

Source: NC Health News

Thousands of child care programs and jobs across the state could soon be in financial limbo as a federal grant that delivered millions in funding will end in December. 

More than 4,370 child care programs for staff compensation and bonuses were supported by a $276.8 million federal grant. A survey by the North Carolina Child Care Resource and Referral Council found that 89 percent of child care programs used the aid for raises, 79 percent used it for bonuses, and about six in 10 programs used the money to hire staff.

The federal aid came at a time when child care programs are mirroring other education systems across the country; low worker pay, lackluster benefits and limited affordable options. 

President Biden’s American Rescue Plan Act, took a huge step in addressing child care provider salaries, increasing benefits and helped lower the cost of child care for many families. Despite the benefits of measures such as the child tax credit and child care investments, Republicans voted against extending the crucial funding

“With those ARPA dollars running out we face this devastating funding cliff for which we really need a lot of attention,” Muffy Grant, executive director of the North Carolina Early Childhood Foundation, told N.C. Health News.

National reports have underscored the impact of limited child care access, with research from the Annie E. Casey Foundation, finding that lack of afford­able and acces­si­ble child care short­changes chil­dren.

In addition, their report also found that the lack of affordable child care costs the U.S. econ­o­my bil­lions of dol­lars a year as workers quit to provide care at home.

As a solution, state Democrats and education advocates are attempting to push forth the Leandro Plan, which lays out investments toward early childhood education, childcare programs and increased pay. 

Advocates, state Democrats and leaders are also proposing that $300 million in state dollars be used to cover the loss of the federal pandemic aid to help child care providers maintain raises and bonuses for staff for another year.

Read more at NC Health News

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