Childcare Centers in the east at risk as pandemic funding set to expire

Childcare Centers at risk as pandemic funding set to expire
Published: Sep. 29, 2023 at 9:10 PM EDT
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GREENVILLE, N.C. (WITN) - As pandemic relief money is coming to an end, some childcare centers in the east could be in jeopardy.

The funds that helped childcare centers, like Tender Touch Childcare in Greenville, will expire on September 30th.

The money allowed operators to upgrade facilities, keep costs lower for parents, and stabilize their businesses by increasing pay for their workers and keeping them from leaving for higher-paying jobs.

Infant Classroom Head Teacher, Patricia Moore, says the program allowed her to get bonuses that were a big help to her finances.

“I’m able to pay off some things that would take a little longer to pay and so knowing that I won’t be receiving it anymore, I have to balance off something else and so it was greatly appreciated and needed,” says Moore.

Like many providers across the nation, the center received some of the $24 billion federal COVID-19 pandemic support program funds that kept many centers afloat over the past two years.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2022, childcare workers typically earned about $14.00 per hour or $29,000 per year.

Owner and Operator, Debra Walston, says not only will her staff be impacted, but she will have difficulty helping families that may be in financial need.

“These monies helped to boost salaries, helped to boost morale, they had something to look forward to and that’s going to be taken away,” says Walston.

Officials also say once funding expires on Saturday, as many as 3 million children could lose their spots and as many as 70,000 childcare centers could be at risk of closing.

Moore offers advice to other teachers and workers who will also be affected.

“You gotta have shelter and you gotta have food, so you might have to limit the amount of food you are getting so they have to work with that, and what you’re getting, decide what you need to pay first and go on and pay it,” says Moore.

Walston says if any parent at her center is in need of financial assistance for their child, she will work with them to be able to continue.

Pandemic relief funding stems from the American Rescue Plan Act or ARPA and the $1.9 trillion stimulus plan signed into law by President Joe Biden in 2021.