Thursday, June 6, 2024

Governor Cooper Visits Raleigh Child Care Center, Highlights Urgent Funding Need for Early Childhood Education and Child Care

Jun 6, 2024

Today, Governor Roy Cooper visited Academically Based Child in Raleigh and visited several classrooms to see strong child care in action as well as learning and growing through engaging activities. The Governor was joined by local officials and Smart Start leadership from Wake County as he highlighted the urgent funding need for early childhood education and child care. Academically Based Child is a 5-star licensed child care center and NC Pre-K program provider.

Quality child care programs like Academically Based Child mean parents can go to work knowing their children are safe and cared for while learning,” said Governor Cooper. “North Carolina will not continue to be the best state to do business if we fall behind in early childhood education. Republican legislators need to invest in crucial programs like child care, not more taxpayer-funded private school vouchers.”

“The bottom line is, without continued investment in early childhood, we cannot continue to hire well-trained staff who understand the needs of children and families,” said Academically Based Child Director of Programs Kim Knight. “This is due to our inability to provide competitive compensation and essential tools for teachers to maintain high-quality classrooms. Additionally, families struggle to afford the rising costs associated with quality child care.”

“Research shows that investing in early childhood yields a return of over 13% both presently and in the future,” said Wake County Smart Start Executive Director Gayle Headen. “When communities support affordable, high-quality child care and education, they help parents succeed in their careers and prepare children to succeed in kindergarten and life ahead. Long term, this investment also lays the foundation for a skilled workforce, reduces societal costs, and fulfills every parent’s dream for their child: a dream of a bright future!”

A recent statewide survey shows that nearly a third of North Carolina child care centers are at risk of closing their doors when the Child Care Stabilization Grants that were made possible by federal funding end in June. Without additional investment, survey results show that North Carolina’s child care centers will lose quality teachers, have difficulty hiring, and will have to raise fees on parents.

North Carolina’s nationally-recognized NC Pre-K program is also at risk this year. Instead of providing the investment needed to sustain and grow this celebrated and high-quality program, the legislature has chosen to funnel $625 million in taxpayer-funded private school vouchers to the wealthy.

In April, Governor Cooper released his recommended budget for FY 2024-2025, Securing North Carolina’s Futurethat includes an urgently needed $745 million investment to strengthen access to child care and early education for working families. Governor Cooper’s budget provides child care stabilization grants to ensure child care centers stay open and can continue serving children, prioritizes funding to help working families afford childcare, helps qualified educators afford to keep teaching, and makes child care more available, especially in our rural areas.

The Governor’s budget proposal includes:

  • $200 million for Child Care Stabilization Grants to keep child care centers open when federal funding ends this summer. These grants support better compensation for the early educator workforce to keep good teachers in our early childhood classrooms.
  • $128.5 million for the Child Care Subsidy Program to increase rates that will benefit child care providers and families in rural and lower-wealth communities and $10 million for Smart Start. Investments will help recruit and retain early childhood educators by providing competitive wages, plus help for early childhood teachers to afford child care for their own children.
  • $197 million for the NC Pre-K Program to increase rates to cover the full cost for NC Pre-K students, which is needed to shore up the program.
  • $24.4 million for summer care and learning programs for students after they complete NC Pre-K and before they enter kindergarten.
  • A refundable child and dependent care tax credit worth up to $600 for the average family of four that will further reduce the burden of child care costs for working families.

Governor Cooper declared 2024 as the Year of Public Schools and has been touring public schools and early childhood education programs across the state calling for investments in K-12 education, early childhood education and teacher pay. The Governor has also called for a stop to state spending on vouchers for unaccountable and unregulated private schools until North Carolina’s public schools are fully funded.

Governor Cooper is committed to prioritizing public schools and to hearing from the many communities across the state who know that strong public schools ensure we have strong communities.

Read "The Year of Public Schools" proclamation here.

Read more about the truth of North Carolina's voucher program here.


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