Thursday, June 27, 2024

Governor Cooper Visits Concord Child Care Center, Highlights Urgent Funding Need For Early Childhood Education and Child Care

Jun 27, 2024

Today, Governor Roy Cooper visited Cabarrus Bilingual Preschool in Concord and visited multiple classrooms to see strong child care in action as well as learning and growing through engaging activities. The Governor was joined by child care advocates and local officials as he highlighted the urgent funding need for early childhood education and child care. Cabarrus Bilingual Preschool is a 5-star licensed child care center and NC Pre-K program provider operated by Families First.

The House and Senate have not included meaningful investments for child care and early childhood education in their proposed budgets.

“This is a critical time for early childhood education and child care in North Carolina and the legislature must step up in the next few days to help keep these centers from closing their doors,” said Governor Cooper. “We need to invest in more child care and Pre-K instead of private school vouchers.”

“It is such a joy today to be at the Cabarrus Bilingual Preschool and celebrating their amazing work in our community,” said Executive Director of Cabarrus Partnership for Children Ann Benfield. “We can change a generation in just five short years, if we invest in our youngest children, their families, and support our early childhood professionals. Please support the budget projections of Governor Cooper and change a generation! No investment will provide the return as an investment in early childhood education. The majority of our investment, reflects in the many contributions that skilled and productive workers make to our future economy. So, invest in our youngest children, their families and our teachers!”

"We’re incredibly grateful to Governor Cooper for his strong support of early childhood education and the crucial pandemic funding that kept our two locations and home-visiting program running,” said Director of Operations for Families First Aurora Swain. “Thanks to ARPA funding, we’ve expanded our network of home-based childcare centers across multiple counties, ensuring more children, especially from minority communities, have access to quality care and our preschools. Continued funding is essential for keeping our doors open, maintaining a strong workforce, offering affordable, high-quality care for families, ensuring our teachers are paid fairly, and our trained home-visitors in the evidence-based Parentchild+ program are in homes every day. This support is making a transformative difference in our community.”

Families First operates multiple preschools in Cabarrus County where they provide NC Pre-K, bilingual early childhood education, summer camps, and often, employment for Hispanic and Spanish-speaking family members of their students

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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