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Children's Advocacy Groups Call For Cooper To Close Child Care Facilities

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Advocacy groups that lobby for the well-being of young children have written a letter to Governor Roy Cooper and N.C. Health and Human Services Director Mandy Cohen urging them to close all child care facilities.

Leaders of N.C. Early Education Coalition, NC Child, and N.C. Association for the Education of Young Children say that forcing employees of day-care facilities to work puts the health of kids, their families, and the workers themselves at risk.

"And they're doing that without additional pay," said Michelle Hughes, executive director of NC Child. "Many of them are doing it without the additional resources they need in terms of gloves, disinfectant."

Cooper has said child care centers need to stay open to care for the children of first responders, health-care workers, and other essential personnel.

Hughes said 1 in 5 child care workers do not have health insurance, and if they caught the virus on the job, the costs for the already low-paid workers could bankrupt them. She said it's impossible to practice social distancing while on the job.

"We need to make sure that children, their families and their teachers are not spreading the infection among themselves and that they stay healthy," Hughes said.

Cooper's office could not comment by the time of publication, but DHHS has opened a 1-800 hotline for families of critical workers, and reporeted more than 450 have been connected to child care through that service so far.

The state is also in the process of identifying child care centers that will become centers for children of critical workers.

Cole del Charco is an audio producer and writer based in Durham. He's made stories for public radio's All Things Considered, Morning Edition and Marketplace. Before joining Due South, he spent time as a freelance journalist, an education and daily news reporter for WUNC, and a podcast producer for WFAE in Charlotte.
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