Today, Governor Roy Cooper toured Lollipop Child Development Center in Charlotte to highlight recommended budget investments that will support children, families and businesses. The Governor’s proposed budget, First in Opportunity, would invest $1.5 billion in new funding for child care and early childhood education.
“A great workforce requires investment from cradle to career, and that starts with early childhood education and quality child care centers, which the House budget proposed last week doesn’t come close to funding in a meaningful way,” Governor Cooper said. “We need to keep making investments to stabilize child care, help centers with great teachers stay open and get North Carolina parents back to work.”
“This Week of the Young Child, it’s important to remember that brain development in a child’s first five years sets the stage for future success in school and life, and that’s why quality early care and learning that support children’s healthy development as well as families’ participation in the workforce is so important,” said Ariel Ford, Director of the Division of Child Development and Early Education at DHHS. “The emergency funding that has kept our child care network standing will soon end. Now is the time to invest in strengthening our state’s early care and learning network and supporting early care and learning teachers.”
Gov. Cooper’s recommended budget includes $500 million for additional investments in child care stabilization grants to help maintain access to affordable early childhood education. It also includes $200 million to increase child care subsidy rates in rural and lower wealth communities.
Last week, the North Carolina House of Representatives released a budget proposal that minimally funds an increase to the child care subsidy rate, but misses a historic opportunity to reinforce stability in the child care industry when it is needed the most. The House budget ultimately lacks enough funding to fully support child care centers, including not funding the $300 million in Child Care Stabilization Grants needed to support child care centers when federal funding expires.
"We can not express enough how beneficial the Stabilization Grants have been to our staff, children and families. This grant has enabled us to continue to operate a 5 star center without any shut downs or lay-offs,” said Todd and Nancy Ridgeway, Lollipop Child Development Center Co-Owners. “We have kept our teachers employed throughout the pandemic and given raises and bonuses to them. It would not have been possible without this funding."
The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services (NCDHHS) has already distributed more than $800 million in North Carolina Child Care Stabilization Grants to help over 4,300 child care facilities across the state with recruitment and retention efforts.
Governor Cooper has also proclaimed April 1-7 as Week of the Young Child to encourage North Carolinians to support efforts that increase children and family access to high-quality early childhood education.
Lollipop Child Development Center is a family-owned business that has been open since 1989. They currently serve over 200 students in the Mecklenburg County area.
Read Governor Cooper’s budget proposal.