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County to Expand Child Care Assistance for Working Parents

4/21/2022

Mecklenburg County has a plan to help more working parents with their child care costs. Many parents do not qualify for a North Carolina child care subsidy because their income is just over the eligibility limit or they do not meet the work/education hour requirements as established by N.C. policy. Beginning June 1, 2022, more families with children up to age 12 will be eligible to receive assistance with their child care costs.

"Consider a single mother of a 3-year-old," said Robert Nesbit, Mecklenburg County Health and Human Services Chief of Staff. "She's the first in her family to attend college, earning a nursing degree and now working a job she loves in a retirement community. Her $45,000 salary is more than her parents ever made, a perfect example of upward mobility.

"But her child care costs are $1,200 per month, or about $14,000 per year, more than a quarter of her salary. Since she earns more than the State allows for a subsidy, she faces the difficult choice of scaling back hours to care for her daughter."

This initiative is intended to help such families whose income falls above the N.C. eligibility threshold. As part of the effort, time-limited vouchers would be issued for up to two years to expand child care subsidy eligibility to working households earning up to 300% of the federal poverty level ($65,880 per year for a family of three). This will help address the "benefits cliff" effect that occurs as families' wages rise above the income eligibility threshold.

The project would also reduce the work/education hour requirements (a common barrier) from 30 hours to 22 hours per week for households who are earning less than 200% federal poverty level ($43,920 for a family of three). By reducing this requirement, the proposal provides a bridge for these families to qualify for State subsidy.

"Child care can range from $800 to $1,500 per month," said Nesbit. "For perspective, that's more than a year of in-state tuition at a four-year public university in North Carolina."

The initiative would serve an estimated minimum of 700 children ages birth to 12, at a cost of $10.5 million over two years. It addresses several Board of County Commissioner priorities, including reducing racial disparities, reducing education attainment gaps, and improving workforce development.

The initiative will launch June 1, 2022 and will be administered by Child Care Resources, Inc. Beginning June 1, residents can call 704-348-2181 or visit childcareresourcesinc.org to learn more about their eligibility.

Click here to watch a presentation on the initiative to the Mecklenburg Board of County Commissioners. Click here to view the slides from the presentation.