CHARLOTTE, N.C. — A week after announcing a new North Carolina grant program intended to keep workers on the job, Governor Roy Cooper and other political leaders visited a Charlotte child care Thursday to highlight the program's ability to help teachers.
"Without our teachers showing up every day, those parents could not go back to work," Secretary of the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) Dr. Mandy Cohen said during the visit.
Cohen joined the governer during the visit Thursday to LeafSpring Schools on Providence Road West in the Ballantyne neighborhood.
Earlier this month, Cooper announced that more than $800 million in federal funding would be directed to early care and learning programs across the state. The North Carolina Child Care Stabilization Grants will support working families with gaining access to high-quality, affordable child care. Those grants will also help child care facilities with recruitment and employee retention through better wages and benefits.
"[Schools and child care facilities] need to try to entice more teachers to come on board, but also keep the ones they have," Cooper said Thursday. "And being able to provide raises and bonuses and to improve working conditions and to increase the quality of the services they're providing to these children and parents, all are going to be critical."
The funding comes from the Biden administration's American Rescue Plan.
This money will help "childcare centers pay bonuses and pay their employees without corresponding increases on parents," Cooper explained.
"Because of the pandemic, many people have withdrawn from the workforce, others have decided to go a different direction in their life is hard work," the governor said. It is hard work, and you've got to have a passion for it. And we got to pay people more."
According to the government's office, grants funded by the $805 million program can be used for a range of activities including: personnel costs; mental health supports; payments for rent, mortgage, utilities, facility maintenance, or insurance; personal protective equipment (PPE); equipment and supplies; and goods or services necessary to maintain or resume child care.
All private, licensed early care and learning programs are eligible to apply for Child Care Stabilization Grants, including for-profit and not-for-profit programs, family child care homes and faith-based centers.
Since March 2020, more than $300 million in emergency funding has been directed toward the early care and learning system to help families, teachers and programs during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to the governor's office.
"Here in Mecklenburg County, we are are laser focused on transformational opportunities for the community and residents of Mecklenburg County," Mecklenburg County Commissionr (District 4) Darrell Williams said. "And this is certainly could be in the class of a transformational opportunity for our residents."
The Child Care Stabilization Grants application opened on Oct. 11and closes on Oct. 31. More information, and an application to apply, can be found on the NC DHHS website.
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