GREENVILLE, N.C. (WITN) – Families across North Carolina are being impacted by the cost of child care and Governor Roy Cooper is hoping his proposed budget can offer some relief.
The average cost per year in NC for infant care is just over $9,000 and for 4-year-old care just over $8,000 according to the Economic Policy Institute.
Dawn Ward, the owner and director of Dawnsha’s Loving Childcare Center in Greenville says, “We have a lot of families that struggle with childcare so, someone in my position, it affects us because we try so hard to help kids and their families because kids at the end of the day can’t help what family they’re born into and what circumstances they live by.”
Ward says she first experienced the increase in childcare prices shortly after the Covid-19 pandemic.
“It was gradual before Covid but when Covid hit, my grocery bills. We go shopping every Wednesday for supplies and groceries. Usually, it would be about $250.00, then it was $500.00, and now it’s closer to $700.00 every week.”
Now, Governor Roy Cooper is proposing a budget with intentions to help support families in North Carolina.
“We know that there is a shortage of quality childcare across the country and it’s one of the reasons why the child stabilization grants were created at the federal level. We know that that need is particularly acute in rural areas,” Cooper says.
He recommends $1.5 billion in new funding to support child care and early education needs across the state. The budget, if passed, would also include $500 million for childcare stabilization grants and $200.00 million to increase childcare subsidy rates in rural and lower health communities.
“Nothing here on earth is more important to us than our children, and the science is overwhelming that early childhood education can make a real difference in their success in life.”
Ward told WITN, “We always try to make sure if they need shoes, we get them. If they need clothes, we get them. They eat great meals three times a day because we know that sometimes when they go home, that’s all they’ve had for today. So this funding is very, very, very important.”
Cooper also says the goal of these potential investments is to help children grow, parents work, and employers hire.
The House is now working on its budget bill. Once that passes in early April according to Republican leaders, the Senate would move its own budget bill in May. after that, there would be a compromise budget to pass and send to Cooper.