It’s up and down time down at the NC General Assembly, as budget conference committee members attempt to work out the differences between the House and Senate budgets. One moment, things look good, and before you know it, the carousel has reversed directions and your programs have suffered a chop on the budget cutting board.
And so it goes with funding for child care subsidy slots. The budgets proposed by the Governor and House provided funding to take more than 1,100 off of the waiting list for child care subsidies. That was a mere dent in the waiting list that’s got nearly 30,000 folks on it currently but at least it’s a start. The Senate budget, however, switched around the numbers and cut 450 slots off from their child care subsidy funding.
Now, Health and Human Services Conferees have been going back and forth and as of this morning, it looked like the Senate proposal would win out, meaning that only about 650 kids would be taken off of the subsidy waiting list. As of this afternoon, it appears that the Governor and House will get their way.
There’s no telling what will happen at the end of today or once the budget is all said and done, of course, but the larger point is that it’s too bad that more funding overall to child care subsidies isn’t on the table.
Childcare has long been one of the largest, if not largest, budget items for working families (usually it’s competing with healthcare costs) and that’s been the case even without the skyrocketing food and gas prices we’re seeing today.
Those nearly 30,000 kids waiting for quality, affordable childcare need relief and now is not the time to be ignoring them. Let's hope that at the very least, budget conferees go with the Governor and House's budget recommendations and provide funding to get 1,100 more kids into childcare.