(Photo by Daria Nipot/Getty Images)
A House bill filed Monday would establish a pilot program to allow child care teachers employed full time by a licensed child care program to automatically become eligible to receive a child care subsidy for their preschool-age children.
House Bill 483 was filed by Rep. Davis Willis, a Union County Republican.
Under the bill, the General Assembly would appropriate $10 million to the Department of Health and Human Services Division of Child Development and Early Education for each year of the 2023-2025 biennium to pay for the pilot program.
Counties that have lost the highest percentage of child care workers during the last 10 years would be chosen for the pilot program.
To be eligible for the subsidy, a child care teacher must have completed, be in the process of completing or enroll in the first available semester of an Introduction to Early Childhood class in a state community college.
Teachers who do not already hold an Early Childhood Education Infant/Toddler Certificate or Child Development Certificate must commit to completing either certificate within 18 months. Certificate courses would be paid for by the T.E.A.C.H. Early Childhood North Carolina Scholarship Program.
According to the N.C. Early Education Coalition, child care teachers are overwhelmingly women and primarily women of color. They earn an average of $12 per hour — less than $25,000 a year — even though 62% of them hold at least an associate’s degree. Meanwhile, the average cost of infant child care is $9,255, which is more than the cost of a year of public college tuition,
Here is additional information the coalition shared about child care teachers on its website:
- One in five teachers doesn’t have health insurance, and 38% of teachers have relied on some form of public assistance.
- Child care teachers are seven times more likely to live in poverty than public school kindergarten teachers.
- Teachers working with infants and toddlers earn the least, regardless of educational level. This wage gap disproportionately affects people of color, who are more likely to work with younger age groups.
- There is an acute workforce shortage and the talent pipeline is shrinking. One in five teachers predicts they will leave the field in three years.
Willis also sponsored House Bill 322 to create public/private pilot program under which employers, employees and the state would share the cost of child care.
HB 322 would require the state Division of Child Development and Early Education to partner with N.C. Partnership for Children to implement the “Tri-Share Child” program to make high-quality child care affordable and accessible to working families and to help employers retain and attract workers and to help stabilize the state’s childcare industry.
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