Cooper visits Charlotte child care center, discusses workforce crisis, stabilization grants

CHARLOTTE — Gov. Roy Cooper visited a south Charlotte child care center on Thursday to discuss child care stabilization grants.

The governor was at LeafSpring School’s Ballantyne location for a tour and spoke on the workforce crisis in addition to the stabilization grants.

The visit came after the governor’s Oct. 7 announcement of $805 million in federal funding that will be directed to early care and learning programs.

The funding, called the North Carolina Child Care Stabilization Grants, is meant to help the state’s early childhood educators recover from the pandemic, get parents back to work, and grow the state’s economy.

“The past year has emphasized how critical early child care is for children’s development and parents who need to work. This help for quality child care will get more parents back into the workforce,” Cooper said in a statement. “Available and accessible child care is a critical component of a sound basic education for our children.”

Funds will support working families by giving them access to affordable child care. The grants will also help with recruitment and retention for early care and learning programs, enabling those programs to give better wages and benefits to teachers. In turn, children, parents and teachers will be given a more equitable future.

“Right now, we have jobs that we need to fill and part of the issue is that a number of parents do not have quality childcare,” Cooper said. “Investment in education is going to be one of the most important things we do to secure our future.”

The money for the grants comes from the 2021 American Rescue Plan.

“Early childhood teachers provide the partnership and expertise families need to ensure the intellectual, social, and emotional development of their infants, toddlers, and preschoolers,” said Susan Gale Perry, Deputy Secretary of the NCDHHS. “Unfortunately, many cannot afford to stay in the profession. Without higher salaries and benefits -- and access to professional development -- we won’t have enough early childhood teachers to help raise our children and our economy. I encourage all eligible providers to apply for this funding.”

All private, licensed early care and learning programs are eligible to apply for the grants, including for-profit and not-for-profit, family child care homes, and faith-based centers.

The grants can help programs -- overwhelmingly women-owned small businesses -- to invest in the resources and supports they need to thrive for years to come. Programs that apply and receive stabilization grants may use the funds 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.

The investment follows the more than $300 million in emergency funding that was directed toward the early care and learning system since March 2020 to help families, teachers, and programs stay resilient during the COVID-19 pandemic.

>> To learn more about North Carolina Child Care Stabilization Grants, click here.

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