As a working mother, the greatest stress I faced — before having a teenager, that is — was when my child care fell apart. Research has shown that what happens in a child’s brain in the first 2,000 days of life has implications for their development for the rest of their lives, so every day of care counts.
In the conversations I’m having with businesspeople all over Western North Carolina, child care is mentioned as one of the reasons people haven’t returned to work. The data supports how many women dropped out of the workforce in the last year to be caregivers. Never have teachers and child care workers been more admired by parents than in 2020.
But admiration isn’t enough. Creating a sustainable child care system for our state is what is needed. We have fought the good fight for funding our renowned public universities, our critical community colleges and our equally important K-12 system. We’ve even made strides in expansion of prekindergarten programs.
But we haven’t tackled the flawed system of how we subsidize child care in our state or the ongoing investment needed to support the correction of that flaw.
HB 574 is a piece of legislation that would allow us to begin treating child care as essential infrastructure. It increases the rates and creates a new statewide floor to help families in every county access quality child care close to home, while supporting local businesses.
Parents rely on child care every day to make working possible. Business owners rely on child care to make hiring and retaining high-quality employees possible. Our state’s elected officials should invest in the sustainability of North Carolina’s child care system — if not, we put our state’s economic recovery at stake. Contact your legislator to register your support by using NC Child’s form: [avl.mx/abs].
— Kit Cramer
President and CEO
Asheville Area Chamber of Commerce