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Child care providers rally at the legislature for stabilization funding

Advocates are asking for emergency funding to avoid child care closures. Liz Bell/EducationNC

By: Liz Bell- May 17, 2024

Federal child care relief funding runs out in less than seven weeks. Hundreds of providers, parents, and advocates showed up at the North Carolina legislature Thursday to call for emergency funding to replace it.

Without intervention, about 20% of the state’s child care facilities are at risk of closing within a year afterward, a survey of providers in February found.

Advocates are asking for a one-time $300 million allocation to extend grants that providers have been receiving through federal funding since 2021 and that end on June 30. Child Care for North Carolina: United for Change, a coalition of organizations, child care program owners and administrators, and educators across the state, hosted the event.

“That’s just enough to keep our doors open at the end of June, until we can figure out a better plan,” said Emma Biggs, director of Pathway Preschool Center in Charlotte and a member of the National Domestic Workers Alliance (NDWA).

The funding is running out across the country, and facilities are struggling to survive the post-pandemic realities of providing child care. Some states have stepped in to create public funding streams or extend stabilization funding. In states that have not, care has become more expensive and less accessible.

In North Carolina, almost 30% of providers responding to the same survey in February said they expect to close at some point after that funding ends, which the survey estimates will affect more than 90,000 children. Almost 90% of respondents said they expect to increase tuition.

“We want spaces for children,” Courtney Alexander, a child care fellow with NDWA and a provider in Charlotte, told the crowd on Thursday. “We want spaces for families. We want a fair living wage. Behind every statistic about program closures and cutbacks are real stories of care workers forced to choose between a career they love and their financial stability.”

Read the full article at EdNC.