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Childcare subsidy program expands to cover more children in Mecklenburg County

“It kind of hurts to say that, but that’s what it’s like, it’s like another major bill,” one parent said.
The expanded subsidies will help make childcare more affordable for working-class families.
Published: Jun. 3, 2022 at 6:30 PM EDT
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CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - Things could get easier for parents struggling to pay for childcare in Mecklenburg County.

The county is investing $10.5 million into a new initiative to expand North Carolina’s childcare subsidy. The program will serve at least 700 children ranging from newborns to 12-year-olds.

The change just took effect this week and means families that previously made too much money to qualify may now be eligible.

As many know, childcare can be expensive for parents of all income levels, some comparing it to the cost of college.

“It’s like comparing it to other major bills like your rent or your mortgage could be close to the same price as childcare,” parent Shaneque Mackins said.

Mecklenburg County officials say the average cost of childcare can range from $800-$1,500 a month, per child.

“Childcare can be as expensive as university, and some people have multiple children,” Karen Jones, the Executive Director of Nana’s Place Learning Center in Charlotte, said.

“It kind of hurts to say that, but that’s what it’s like, it’s like another major bill,” Mackins said.

That’s where Mecklenburg County’s new program comes in.

It expands the state’s childcare subsidy program to households earning up to $65,880 per year for a family of three.

This helps eliminate the problem many families are facing—earning too much to qualify for help—but not earning enough to realistically pay for childcare.

“You may make a decent amount of money, but if you have child or multiple children, like most of your income is going towards you living and childcare expenses,” Mackins said.

She also believes that paying for childcare is harder for parents not able to work from home.

“It’s kind of like you’re pretty much a rock in a hard place, you have to go to work, so your kids have to be taken care of, so it’s kind of like you just have to do it,” she said.

Jones said the new program is a major move for the county and parents.

“I actually sent it out to all of our families, for even those that may not necessarily have applied for subsidy before, but because the income cap has been raised, it may be beneficial for people,” she said.

Along with income requirement change, the program reduces the work and education-hour requirements.

“The cost of living is increasing and that’s affecting a lot of people,” Mackins said.

Nana’s Place said it’s difficult ensuring its staff members have decent wages and proving childcare that’s affordable, so it supports this program for parents.

“With everything going up, gas, groceries, I mean inflation is taking us all out, this will help somebody,” Jones said.

People interested in the program can reach out to Child Care Resources, the agency administering the program. They can be reached at 704-348-2181 or by visiting their website.

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