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NC Emergency Hotline Helps Critical Workers Find Childcare

Child-care workers in the United States earn an average of $11 an hour, according to federal data. (Adobe Stock)
Child-care workers in the United States earn an average of $11 an hour, according to federal data. (Adobe Stock)

April 1, 2020

RALEIGH, N.C. -- Closures of day-care centers and schools have left parents who still have to work outside the home scrambling to arrange for child care.

In North Carolina, officials say more than half the state's day-care centers have closed their doors. However, the state is supporting programs that have chosen to remain open, offering new health, safety and operational guidelines.

Marsha Basloe, president of the Child Care Services Association, said child-care workers need financial support to stay afloat in the pandemic. Her organization has launched a COVID-19 Relief Fund to help North Carolina families and care providers cover expenses.

"Child care is essential," she said. "It is part of every single community. You can close the schools, but you cannot close child care because we support the workforce, we support the doctors and the nurses."

The state Department of Health and Human Services has launched an emergency child-care hotline for critical workers. Parents can call 1-888-600-1685 to be referred to local programs for infants and children age 12 and younger during the public health crisis.

In the coming months, said Julia Barfield, senior manager of policy and programs for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Center for Education and Workforce, child-care infrastructure will be even more critical for industries as they try to bounce back from the recession.

"Many people who weren't aware that this is a workforce issue are being either reminded because they're trying to raise children and entertain children at home, or they're seeing how a lack of child care in their community is going to be a huge barrier to their recovery," she said.

Even without a recession, she said, states are losing millions of dollars each year because of families' lack of access to affordable child care.

Information about the NCDHHS hotline is online at ncdhhs.gov, and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce report is at uschamberfoundation.org.

Nadia Ramlagan, Public News Service - NC