North Carolina has an amazing opportunity to improve the lives of children, women and families with the passage of the American Rescue Plan. This plan will send $1.3 billion to North Carolina to invest in early childhood education and child care programs. This investment is desperately needed, and we must spend it well.
Even before the pandemic, finding quality child care was extremely difficult in our community. In Buncombe County and across our state, the demand for child care spots far exceeds the supply. I was pregnant six years ago with my oldest son when I started getting on waitlists for child care programs in our area. I am still on some of those waitlists.
The pandemic has made operating very difficult for many programs; some have even made the difficult choice to close for good. Child care is very expensive, and parents cannot afford to pay more. Educators working in early childhood or child care jobs, most of whom are women, make low wages without benefits for very important work.
The N.C. General Assembly members should carefully invest this unprecedented $1.3 billion investment in making child care more affordable for families, expanding access to quality preschool and early childhood programs so that our youngest learners are reading for success in kindergarten, and increase pay and benefits for the child care workforce. Investing in children and families will help the economy. It’s the right thing to do and if we do it right, we will have a better North Carolina.
— Rachel Shelton