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Amid COVID-19, N.C. Childcare Centers Make Difficult Choices

A group of women sit around a table. A sign behind them reads "Think Babies."
North Carolina Early Education Coalition

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 theNorth Carolina Early Education Coalition.

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Stacia L. Brown is a writer and audio storyteller who has worked in public media since 2016, when she partnered with the Association of Independents in Radio and Baltimore's WEAA 88.9 to create The Rise of Charm City, a narrative podcast that centered community oral histories. She has worked for WAMU’s daily news radio program, 1A, as well as WUNC’s The State of Things. Stacia was a producer for WUNC's award-winning series, Great Grief with Nnenna Freelon and a co-creator of the station's first children's literacy podcast, The Story Stables. She served as a senior producer for two Ten Percent Happier podcasts, Childproof and More Than a Feeling. In early 2023, she was interim executive producer for WNYC’s The Takeaway.
Longtime NPR correspondent Frank Stasio was named permanent host of The State of Things in June 2006. A native of Buffalo, Frank has been in radio since the age of 19. He began his public radio career at WOI in Ames, Iowa, where he was a magazine show anchor and the station's News Director.
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