Recently filed bipartisan bills aim to address the increasing shortage of child care options for North Carolinians.
Three bills, announced at a press conference earlier this month, would address child care gaps by allocating funds for subsidies and grants for child care centers. The third bill, which Rep. Ashton Clemmons, D-Guilford, is a sponsor, would create a program that would share the cost of child care with employers.
“Tri-Share is a model that has businesses, families and the state tri-sharing the costs of child care, and we will be putting forth to start that in three counties as a pilot program and learn from it,” stated Clemmons.
According to the NC Early Education Coalition, North Carolina is considered a “child care desert” when it comes to infant toddler care, with a statewide average of more than 5 families with babies competing for every available licensed child care space.
The coalition’s data shows that 10 counties have 10 or more babies for every licensed child care space.
In rural communities across our state, high-quality care is even more scarce, according to the coalition. In 30 rural counties, communities have 5 or fewer 4- and 5-star programs serving infants and toddlers.
“The child care industry was already broken before the pandemic struck, but now we are on the verge of crumbling,” stated Michele Miller Cox, who runs First Presbyterian Day School in Raleigh. “We are facing unprecedented teacher shortages, lack of availability for parents, and high costs at every level.”
In addition to the three newly proposed bills, Gov. Roy Cooper has also underscored the need for working North Carolinians to have access to early childhood education at quality child care centers.
During his State of the State speech, Governor Cooper called for additional investments; referencing the federal child care stabilization grants during the pandemic that he called a triple play for, “education for the child, a job earning money for the parent, and a badly needed employee for the business. We need to fill them with high-quality staff and keep those child care centers open.”