Organizations can operate as childcare facilities without requiring background checks under NC Covid-19 relief law

New bill eases guidelines for some childcare facilities in NC

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - Governor Roy Cooper signed a $1 billion dollar coronavirus relief bill into law.

The law provides additional funding for organizations stepping up to help to provide a space for kids to go during the school day for help with remote learning. But, it also loosens restrictions for some child care facilities.

Mother Virginia Garramoney has been spending a lot of time with her 3 year old.

“We took him out of daycare when lockdown happened so he’s been out since March," Garramoney said. "So we’re still kind of hesitant right now to put him back in.”

She does not envy the families with school-age children navigating remote learning.

About $19.8 million dollars was allocated to The North Carolina Alliance of YMCAs. Community-based organizations across the state will be able to apply for some of this in grant money to assist with remote learning.

“We’re basically providing a location for the children to access all the remote learning and also providing them with additional support, health and wellness," Sherée Vodicka, CEO of NC Alliance of YMCAs, said.

Community-based organizations are broadly listed as “public or private nonprofit organizations representative of a community,” including but not limited to YMCAs, YWCAs, Boys and Girls Clubs and parks and recreation programs.

The bill also says “care provided to school age children is not considered childcare."

Operating without a childcare license would mean no required background checks or certification in CPR or first aid.

“The parents have to have some peace of mind leaving the kids somewhere where they feel like are equipped to handle things that come up," father David Gunther said.

Gunther said he would personally not feel comfortable leaving his children in the care of employees who do not undergo background checks.

Organizations like the YMCA, YWCA and the Boys and Girls Clubs already require those safety checks.

Vodicka hopes the state health department could make health requirements for all organizations during registration.

“We all want children to be safe and healthy," Vodicka said. "We’re just in this unprecedented time where we have to have out of the box solutions, so I would encourage us all to keep talking about it.”

According to the legislature, all of these organizations will be required to register with the state.

A NCDHHS spokesperson told WBTV in a statement:

“The NC Department of Health and Human Services is in the process of developing the application procedure for community-based organizations to receive the grant funds outlined in HB 1105. This is a new process that must be created from scratch as the General Assembly did not engage the department in this legislation.”

Senator Terry Van Duyn of Asheville introduced an amendment that would have put some of those protections in place, but it did not pass.

Mecklenburg County District 88 Representative Mary Belk sent WBTV the following statement:

“The Coronavirus Relief Act 3.0 is a broad piece of legislation that funds additional unemployment benefits, provides families with financial assistance, and maintains funding for our schools at previous enrollment levels, but it is far from a perfect bill. I supported efforts to change the bill, and voted for it because so many people need help and assistance in these unprecented times.”

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