RALEIGH, NC (WWAY) — The North Carolina Early Education Coalition, NC Child, and the North Carolina Association for the Education of Young Children are calling on Governor Cooper and NC DHHS Secretary Mandy Cohen to order all child care centers closed and to put a relief package into place to keep the child care sector safe in this crisis.
“More than a fifth of early childhood teachers have no health insurance whatsoever, and yet we are asking them to risk their own health and safety as front-line emergency responders in a national health crisis,” said Michelle Hughes, executive director of NC Child. “The workers in child care centers are overwhelmingly women of color earning very low wages. We need health coverage, emergency pay, and paid leave for every child care worker now.”
According to a news release, the three organizations are also asking the governor to designate an emergency child care category for the children of essential personnel only.
Thousands of private child care centers in the state have already closed, but many are remaining open because they serve the families of health care workers and other essential personnel.
NC DHHS has provided guidance to child care centers who decide to remain open and asked them to fill out an application by March 30 to be able to serve as emergency child care operators.
DHHS has also put an emergency hotline into place to help families find urgent child care.
“Child care plays a critical role in the immediate response to this crisis and in the coming recovery. Right now, we are asking programs to make excruciating decisions that affect their business, their employees, and the families they serve,” said Michele Rivest, director of the NC Early Education Coalition. “Social distancing is not possible or even safe when caring for young children and babies. We need to act now to ensure that child care programs and their employees get the supports they need to stay healthy and safe both during and after this crisis.”
According to the news release, data from a survey by the National Association for the Education of Young Children indicates that for without emergency funding, a temporary closure will be a permanent one without emergency funding for many child care centers.
Approximately one third of programs in North Carolina reported that they won’t survive a closure of more than two weeks without financial assistance.