The 2015 Legislative session officially ended on September 30th, after many months of work. The House and Senate approved a long-awaited $21.74 billon budget deal which Governor McCrory signed into law on September 18, 2015. Overall, the early education budget fared well! Here are some highlights about the budget items on the Partnership’s and the NC Child Care Coalition’s agendas:
Over $620 million in state and federal funding for early education was continued for Smart Start and Child Care Subsidies, and NC Pre-K, which also received a $5 million boost to continue support for 520 preschool seats approved last session. (Coalition priority)
Child Care Subsidies
The budget agreement partially restores access to child care assistance, making it possible for more families to get quality child care for their children while they work or go to school. Specifically, the budget redefines “family income unit,” so that the income of relative caregivers, like grandparents, doesn’t count against a child’s eligibility. The budget also reestablishes a prorated parent fee for part-time child care. (Coalition priorities; unsuccessful in restoring income eligibility to 200% FPL for children ages 0-8)
Better Subsidy Reimbursement Rates
The budget improved child care subsidy reimbursement rates for infant and toddler care in three, four-, and five-star programs in Tier 1 and Tier 2 Counties which includes 80 smaller, more rural counties. This is the second year in a row where the Coalition’s advocacy for better rates was successful. (Coalition Priority; urged legislators to extend this policy to all 100 counties)
Created an Early Education Committee that will study early childhood and family support programs, including the Child Care Subsidy Program, NC Pre-K, and Smart Start. (Coalition supported the study committee and opposed a merger of early education programs)
DOD Licensing Exemption
Exempted Department of Defense (DOD) Child Care facilities from licensing and allowed these programs to participate in the state subsidized child care programs. (Coalition opposed this bill)
Overall, this budget signals strong support from policymakers for early education! Please send a special thanks to budget leaders and your own legislators about their support for early education. You can write legislators through the Coalition’s Action Center or contact them through www.ncleg.net.
We appreciate your commitment and willingness to stand up for early education! If you are interested in learning more about policy issues and how to participate in the advocacy work of the NC Child Care Coalition, please take a few moments to take this survey.
Thanks for being a champion for young children and families in Durham!