Tuesday, June 11, 2024

Major North Carolina Employers Agree: Meaningful Investments in Child Care and Early Childhood Education are Critical to Strengthening Our Workforce and Economy Governor Cooper's budget recommends $745 million investment in quality child care and early childhood education

Raleigh, N.C.
Jun 11, 2024

Today, employers across the state join Governor Roy Cooper in encouraging investments in quality child care to help businesses recruit and retain talent and develop a thriving economy across the state.

“North Carolina is the best state in the country to do business because of our skilled and talented workforce,” said Governor Roy Cooper. “Quality child care with early childhood education is essential to making sure children thrive, parents can work and employers can hire those parents for their workforce.”

Lack of access to child care is a significant economic barrier for workers, businesses, and communities nationwide. A 2023 report on the impact of lack of infant-toddler child care found that child care challenges cost employers $23 billion annually in lost productivity, which in turn costs communities $21 billion annually in federal, state, and local tax revenue that supports critical infrastructure and public services.

Child care access presents a significant workforce and economic development challenge in North Carolina. A recent statewide survey showed that nearly a third of North Carolina child care centers are at risk of closing their doors when Child Care Stabilization Grants made possible by federal funding end later this month. 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.

Gov. Cooper’s recommended budget for FY 2024-2025 addresses these challenges with a $745 million investment to strengthen access to child care and early education for working families. Gov. Cooper’s budget provides child care stabilization grants to ensure child care centers stay open and can continue serving children, prioritizes funding to help parents afford child care, helps qualified educators afford to keep teaching, and makes child care more available, especially in rural areas, all of which can help employers recruit and retain the skilled, talented workforce they need.

Gov. Cooper’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

Below are statements from businesses in various industries making clear that investments in improved access to child care are investments in our workforce and our economy:

“I applaud Governor Cooper’s efforts to support working families. Helping mothers and fathers meet their needs at home is not only good for families and businesses, but the overall community. The child care tax credit will help build and strengthen a sustainable workforce that is important to Lilly and North Carolina’s vibrant economy.” - Rosa Manso Herranz, Associate Vice President and Site Head, Eli Lilly & Company’s Concord facility

"The ability to access to quality, affordable child care has a far-reaching impact in North Carolina. We encourage lawmakers to address the immediate needs of this issue while also working toward a long-term solution for working moms, dads and child care workers. Parents often face difficult choices in balancing employment and child care. They deserve a well-thought-out solution that positively contributes to their lives, our communities and the state’s economy." - Sherri Thomas, Chief Administrative Officer, Truliant

"Prioritizing subsidized child care and universal pre-K isn't just an investment in our children's future; it's a strategic economic move, positioning North Carolina as a leader in talent recruitment and sustainable economic development. We appreciate Governor Roy Cooper’s efforts supporting these critical infrastructure investments." - Danielle Stilwell, HR Development & Recruitment Manager, Columbia Forest Products

"Lack of affordable and available child care in the High Country has impacted the construction industry. We frequently have office employees who bring their children to work and field employees who have to miss work to care for their child. Just this week, 2 of our 13 office employees brought children to work due to difficulty with child care. I believe improving our local child care infrastructure and early childhood education is an investment that will benefit our community for both the parents we employ and the children we hope will eventually enter our workforce." - Josh Herman, Preconstruction Manager, Greene Construction, Inc.

“As I am first and foremost a mother, I knew I needed to foster a flexible work environment that doesn’t marry parents to their desk from 9-5. Being able to leave early to pick up your kids from school and work from home as needed is crucial to having a sustainable work-life-balance. Parents’ jobs don’t end at 5PM. Allocating state funds towards a child care tax credit and providing competitive wages to childhood educators is an amazing step towards improving child care options in NC, and improving early childhood development – which drives our mission at BIOMILQ.” - Leila Strickland, PhD, CEO & Co-Founder, BIOMILQ

Read Governor Cooper’s budget proposal here.

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