NC child care workers rally in Raleigh for more funding

CHARLOTTE — Child care workers say their industry is in crisis, so they went to Raleigh to push for more funding.

The workers want to make child care more affordable for families, but they also want to make sure workers are paid enough.

“We don’t do this for money. We never have,” said Emma Biggs, the child care director at Pathway Preschool Center in Plaza Midwood. “We do it with passion.”

Biggs says she had to lay off seven part-time employees in March and cut the center’s hours.

There are 42 more children on a waitlist to get into the infant class.

“We need to secure staffing for teachers when stabilization grant money ends in December,” Biggs said. “And we need to put money back into the state’s subsidy system so that they pay us the rate of child care that it really does cost.”

The daycare is one of several in Charlotte and many across the state that closed on Thursday for the event in Raleigh.

Biggs says the situation is dire and that if some pandemic-era federal funding ends in December, she’s not sure if her center will survive.

“We don’t know. We don’t know,” she said.

Channel 9 was out Thursday morning with people who were leaving Charlotte to gather at the General Assembly in Raleigh.

Iris and Robert McRae said Thursday they have been losing teachers at their child care facility in Rockingham.

“For us, it’s about giving our teachers and staff more money,” Iris McRae said. “They deserve it. Some people say it’s not about the money, but it is about the money.”

Politicians said there is a good chance the funding will come through.

“Yeah, I believe it’s going to happen,” said N.C. Rep. David Willis, R-Union County. “I think we’ll continue the compensation grants, as well as looking at market subsidy rates, and several other programs. So I think there’s a number of things you’ll see in this budget that will be really positive for child care in North Carolina.”

“They need to make decent money,” said N.C. Sen. Joyce Waddell, D-Mecklenburg County. “And we’re talking about more than minimum wage. We’re talking about a living wage.”

There is bipartisan support and good conditions for passing a budget with more funding for child care.

Legislators told Channel 9 the budget is on track to be finalized.

It must be passed by the end of June, according to the law.

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Evan Donovan

Evan Donovan, wsoctv.com

Evan is an anchor and reporter for Channel 9.