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NC Child Care Voucher Cuts Affect Working Parents

April 30, 2012

ASHEVILLE, N.C. - The end of the school year is around the corner, leaving many North Carolina working parents looking for safe and fun summer care alternatives for their children. For thousands across the state, the YWCA is one of the many summer child care options.

However, Cici Weston, school-age program director with the Asheville YWCA, says that organization has lost all its state funding for child care voucher programs. The YWCA has been forced to hire fewer staff members this summer, she says, and warns that some parents will not be able to afford child care without vouchers.

"Parents who cannot get child care cannot work, because they don't have anywhere for their children to be unless they choose to leave them at home - and we all know that that's not a safe situation."

Statewide, child care subsidy funding has been reduced by five percent. More than 150,000 children are served by the program in North Carolina, and most communities have waiting lists for the vouchers. In past years, when vouchers have run out, the Asheville YWCA has kept a three- to four-year waiting list.

Eliminating the vouchers has also prompted the Asheville "Y" to reduce the number of summer activities for children, although Weston says they're still trying to make the most of what they have to help parents.

"Just having that safe environment for children to be, for parents who are working. We know statistically during the summer months, some children lose ground educationally."

Weston adds that the types of activities and field trips they would normally offer will be curtailed this summer. North Carolina vouchers can help eligible families cover as much as $555 a month for child care.

Reporting for this story by North Carolina News Connection in association with Media in the Public Interest. Media in the Public Interest is funded in part by Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation.

Stephanie Carson/Stephanie Carroll Carson, Public News Service - NC