Even before COVID-19 began to impact childcare center operations across the state, half of North Carolina was a childcare desert — a geographic area where three or more working-parent families vy for every available childcare slot.
Though childcare needs have changed during the pandemic, as more parents have been working from home and caring for their children at home, there’s still more need than there are open childcare center slots to fulfill it. As the state reopens and more parents gradually return to work, some childcare centers are still unable to open at full capacity, due to ongoing COVID-19 restrictions. Those that are open at 50 percent capacity are operating at a financial deficit.
Host Frank Stasio talks to WUNC education reporter Liz Schlemmer; Catherine Lieberman, director of Bell’s School for people under six; Cassandra Brooks, owner of The Little Believer’s Academy; and Michele Rivest, policy director of the North Carolina Early Education Coalition.