Few families can afford the high cost of child care. And that’s no surprise. In North Carolina, the average cost of infant care is $9,225 annually per child – greater than the cost of in-state college tuition! A working parent who can’t access child care subsidy assistance will spend more than 1/3 of their total income on child care. Families rely on quality child care so that they can work and support their own families.
Our state legislators are about to make important budget decisions that will affect whether any of these children and their families have access to high quality early education in the future. By the end of April, the House budget will be finalized and voted on!
MomsRising is part of the Think Babies coalition and works in close partnership with other organizations to encourage policies that help NC children and families thrive. We are asking for a $31.5 million investment in child care subsidy assistance for working families and their children. This amount would serve approximately 6,000 eligible young children who will otherwise miss out on critical early learning experiences.
The Child Care Subsidy Program is a two-generation program designed to help families earning at or below 200% of the federal poverty level (FPL) pay for child care while they work or attend school, while providing their children with access to quality early care and learning programs. However, an acute shortage of child care subsidy funding exists, especially for families of infants and toddlers. In every county, only about 20% of all eligible children age 0-5 are receiving child care subsidies and thousands of families remain on the waiting list.
You don’t get a do over on early childhood. North Carolina's children shouldn’t have to spend their critical early years sitting on waiting lists for child care.
We know that early childhood education is a solid investment, offering a 13:1 return on investment through better outcomes in education, health, economic productivity, and social behaviors. Studies show that children who have high-quality early learning experiences are more likely to succeed in school, graduate from high school, gain stable employment, and are less likely to be arrested.
But it’s not just kids who benefit. High-quality, affordable child care is also important to our state’s economy, helping keep parents in the work force and participating in the economy as consumers.
Parents need safe, enriching places for their kids to be so they can work and kids need safe, enriching places to be so they can thrive. Sixty-five percent of kids in North Carolina under the age of six live in a household where all available parents are in the workforce. Making child care affordable increases parents' workforce participation, increasing economic self-sufficiency, and decreasing the stress caused by economic instability.
Investing in access to high-quality, affordable early learning is an investment that pays off for children, families, employers, and our state’s economy. It's time for our legislators to make that investment.
Legislators leave for spring break this Thursday, April 18th, and there’s not much time left for them to make budget decisions that can change the future for children and families in our state.
It’s urgent that legislators hear that their constituents want them to pass a strong budget for young children and families. Send your legislators a quick message urging them to increase funding for child care subsidy assistance for working families and their children.
It’s up to each one of us to raise our voice to make sure that low-income working families and their children have access to quality early care and education programs in our communities.