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GOP VP Nominee Vance calls Republicans champions of the middle class; President Biden is isolating with Covid while sources say Schumer privately urged Biden to step aside in the 2024 election: NY bill addresses monopolies, anti-trust loopholes; ACLU of Alabama launches Project MOVE to boost voter turnout.

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Ohio Sen. JD Vance makes an 'America First' VP nomination acceptance speech. Tough national security talk papers over GOP complexities on foreign policy. Sen. Bob Menendez resigns and President Biden catches COVID.

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It's grass-cutting season and with it, rural lawn mower races, Montana's drive-thru blood project is easing shortages, rural Americans spend more on food when transportation costs are tallied, and a lack of good childcare is thwarting rural business owners.

Child-Care Crisis Hindering North Carolina's Economy

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Monday, January 23, 2023   

The state's unemployment rate for women with children younger than age 6 has reached nearly 4%, and according to a new report, around 400,000 parents across North Carolina say they've had to miss work because of a lack of child-care options.

Founder and CEO of Creative Economic Development Consulting Crystal Morphis said nationwide, 16,000 child-care centers shut their doors during the pandemic - and persistent low wages make it difficult to attract workers as those centers reopen.

She said moms of young children especially are feeling the effects.

"In North Carolina, women have about a 10% lower labor-force participation rate than men anyway," said Morphis. "Since the pandemic, there's probably still about a million women sitting on the sidelines throughout the country."

According to federal data, more than 50,000 parents nationwide missed work in December 2022 because of child-care issues.

Data show more than 26,000 North Carolina kids dropped out of preschool and child-care programs during the pandemic.

Cassandra Brooks is the director of Little Believers Academy, a preschool in Clayton. She explained that society's most essential jobs depend on parents having affordable and reliable child care.

"Then those people can't go on to work in their industries," said Brooks. "They can't go on to work at the gas stations, the grocery stores, all of these things that we utilize daily. They can't because they don't have child-care assistance."

Alexandra Porter said she's one of the lucky ones. The single mother of two from Clayton has affordable child care.

Porter said knowing her preschooler is safe and learning during the day has made it easier to continue working at her state government job.

"Being able to come to work is a blessing," said Porter, "and it feels good knowing that I have somewhere to take my child every day so that I can come into work to make my money to take care of my children. "

According to the report, more than half of North Carolina families with young children live in areas designated as "child-care deserts."


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