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As North Carolina approaches the 'child care cliff,' will state lawmakers step in?

Composite image of signs from rally in Forest Hills Park in Durham, NC on May 13, 2024 in support of child care workers
Composite image of signs from rally in Forest Hills Park in Durham, NC on May 13, 2024 in support of child care workers

When it comes to child care, the numbers just don't seem to add up: parents struggle to pay increasing child care tuition costs, child care workers often earn less than a living wage, and child care center owners often can't even afford to pay themselves.

North Carolina's child care industry will face another challenge at the end of June -- that's when federal funds intended to stabilize the industry during the pandemic are set to run out. Some experts anticipate that if the funding support goes away large numbers of centers will close, tens of thousands of child care slots could be lost, and the vast majority of centers that stay open will be forced to raise their tuition fees. Many advocates, early childhood educators, and parents are at a rally today demanding the state legislature allocate funding to help.

Today on Due South, a range of voices and perspectives, including an interview with two members of the state legislature, to explore the anticipated impact of the "funding cliff" and how to address the struggling child care system in the short term and for the long haul.


Danielle Caldwell, advocate and former child care center owner

Dee Dee Fields, Director, Landeeingdam Daycare

Katie Dukes, Policy Analyst, EdNC

Liz Bell, Early Childhood Reporter, EdNC

Joy Spencer, parent

Emma Biggs, Director, Pathway Preschool Center in Charlotte

Rep. David Willis, Republican state representative from Union County, member of the legislative childcare caucus

Rep. Ashton Clemmons, Democratic state representative from Guilford County, member of the legislative childcare caucus

Jeff Tiberii is the co-host of WUNC's "Due South." Jeff joined WUNC in 2011. During his 20 years in public radio, he was Morning Edition Host at WFDD and WUNC’s Greensboro Bureau Chief and later, the Capitol Bureau Chief. Jeff has covered state and federal politics, produced the radio documentary “Right Turn,” launched a podcast, and was named North Carolina Radio Reporter of the Year four times.
Rachel McCarthy is a producer for "Due South." She previously worked at WUNC as a producer for "The Story with Dick Gordon." More recently, Rachel was podcast managing editor at Capitol Broadcasting Company where she developed narrative series and edited a daily podcast. She also worked at "The Double Shift" podcast as supervising producer. Rachel learned about audio storytelling at the Salt Institute for Documentary Studies. Prior to working in audio journalism, she was a research assistant at the Aspen Institute in Washington, DC.