Blog

As our lives are rocked by the repercussions of COVID-19, children are learning at home, relationships are disrupted and parents are juggling parenting and work. Many parents are working from home. Others must leave home to keep their jobs. Access to quality, affordable child care is a necessity for employees and employers. In this three-part series, we are focusing on the critical role of Early Care and Education (ECE) in creating safe, stable, nurturing relationships and environments to prevent child maltreatment and strengthen families.

Right now, ECE educators and programs are under stress. Families with young children are stressed. Assuring the stability of our ECE system is essential so North Carolina can get back to business and families can thrive.

We all have a role to play in assuring safe, stable, nurturing environments for our children—policymakers, business leaders and community members—to assure our children thrive and we build a foundation for their future success. Investing in a sustainable, quality ECE system is fundamental to our society. It is good for kids. It is good for parents. It is good for business.  That is a winning equation that will have a great return on investment post-pandemic and beyond.

Part 1 – What is ECE and Why Should We Invest in it?

Early Care and Education (ECE), often called child care, includes settings in which children are cared for and taught by people other than their parents or primary caregivers with whom they live. It is foundational for a prosperous society. It serves many vital functions: an educational institution building young children’s developing brains; a caring place for children to develop social and emotional skills; a primary child maltreatment prevention system; a vital workforce support; and an economic driver.

ECE is a complex system of care and education that supports children’s well-being. Positive interactions are the foundation of healthy brain development, particularly in the first three years of life when 80 percent of brain growth happens. Quality ECE by a workforce educated in child development fosters caring relationships for children which increase their ability to thrive, adapt and learn into adulthood. 

ECE is also a foundational support system for our workforce and economic development. Corporations, small businesses and community-based organizations need employees with secure child care and school arrangements to stabilize our economy. Employees depend on quality care for their children while they work. As ECE programs struggle to stay open during the pandemic, the lack of care impacts child well-being, family financial security and economic recovery.

This blog is also published by Prevent Child Abuse North Carolina.

Prevent Child Abuse North Carolina (PCANC) is the leading statewide nonprofit organization dedicated to preventing child abuse and neglect. Through collaboration with partners, PCANC ensures that prevention is a priority for North Carolina and all communities have the knowledge, support, and resources to prevent child abuse and neglect. PCANC is the North Carolina chapter of Prevent Child Abuse America.

Tammy Gibson

This is a sobering reality for Tammy Gibson, Director of Central United Methodist Church preKindergarten in Haywood County. She said it was very difficult to close her center in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, but she ultimately felt she had no choice. “I have so many staff with different risk factors. There was just no way we could safely stay open.”

That difficult decision means that she and her teachers are facing real financial hardship. She said, “All of my teachers are trying to figure it out financially. They are struggling. If you get behind paying your bills, it is so much harder.”

When asked about her own experience, Tammy shared, “It has been so hard for my family because I don’t have income to contribute to our bills. I still haven’t been able to get unemployment. My daughter is getting married in August and we are not sure what to do. We want to keep things rolling, but it is a real struggle. We are cutting back every way we can, buying the necessities only. We are just trying to keep our lights on.”

Four of Tammy’s teachers have been getting salary supplements from the Child Care WAGE$® Program for many years. The fact that these supplements will continue during this crisis is a bright spot for her staff.

According to Tammy, “They are going to be so grateful to have these payments. It has been so hard on them and they will need this money just to meet basic, fundamental needs. It means so much. WAGE$ is a great program. Staff wait on the money to help pay bills. They appreciate it a lot.” As a previous participant, Tammy said WAGE$ helped her finish school and now that her county has a new income cap, she has applied to join the program again.

Tammy hopes that her center may be one of the lucky ones that can reopen with church support. She is staying in touch with her staff as they all face this challenge together. She said, “My center has not experienced a lot of turnover and many of my teachers have worked with me for years. We are more than coworkers; we are friends and family. I hope they can come back.”

Learn more about CCSA’s Child Care WAGE$® Program here.

By Allory Bors, Research Coordinator at CCSA

Our last post in the series ended with two questions for providers: “How can we best care for you?” and “How are you caring for yourself?” Inspired by these questions, this post discusses the difference between self-care and community care, and why understanding this difference is key to the long term survival of the early childhood system.

Activism to decrease the stigma surrounding mental illness and growing awareness of how toxic stress builds up in the body have made “self-care” a hot button topic. A glance at Google search term analytics shows that, starting around the beginning of 2016, the phrase took off in popularity, peaking in April 2020. Google trends also considers the phrase “self-care plan” as a breakout term, meaning the phrase had a “tremendous increase” in searches compared to little to no searches a few years ago.

Many researchers and early childhood advocates are focused on the mental health impacts of the pandemic for young children, as the first three years of life are so crucial to development. As a field, however, we must pay equal attention to providers. Trauma begets trauma, and child care providers cannot pour from an empty cup.

Research shows that the pandemic is changing our brain function. When the body is under the constant stress of trying to keep ourselves and others safe, the prefrontal cortex, the part of our brain responsible for complex decision making, shuts down. Cortisol, the stress hormone, is released in the body to activate both our learned and instinctual responses to threats. When we are stuck in this activated state for long periods of time, it diminishes our ability to think abstractly, to empathize and to complete tasks like planning, paperwork, writing and organization.

Paradoxically, all of these activities are even more necessary as the school year begins, as some providers reopen, others adapt to virtual learning and their school age children returning, and providers try to mitigate added risk as children move between various environments where they may be exposed to the virus.

Care providers and the people who in turn care for them are also impacted by “compassion fatigue.” You may have heard of the compassion fatigue phenomenon as it applies to supporting a grieving loved one. Often times, a bereaved person receives care and attention from their community shortly following the traumatic event, but support drops off over time. This means that as the pandemic continues, providers will struggle to provide the same quality of supportive interactions with young children, and also struggle to receive the support they deserve.

Indeed, as the adrenaline of the early pandemic fades and exhaustion sets in, child care providers need more support, not less. This, and the hindrance to brain function caused by unprecedented stress, can make self-care practices such as mindfulness, journaling or establishing routine more difficult to practice.

Thus, calls to prioritize “self-care,” though very important, can sometimes invalidate people who are struggling to care for themselves and need community to step in. Community care acknowledges the interdependence of us all – a lesson more and more of us have remembered again when it comes to child care in the pandemic. The nervous system is soothed by the co-regulation that occurs in community, which in turn helps each individual to self-regulate.

So, what would a robust system of community care look like? We often hear about talk therapy as a first line response to mental health crisis. Yet, a large percentage of providers have no health insurance, so therapy is not affordable. Peer support specialists, often serving in local health departments, may be a promising option to meet increased need. Peer support specialists also have personal experience recovering from mental illness or addiction, and are therefore able to provide horizontal, rather than the top-down support other mental health professionals provide, which can sometimes feel impersonal.

For family child care providers, FCC networks also provide connections with peers, can help centralize or provide systems for completing paperwork and offer services like training and technical assistance. Many counties have child care directors meetings with Child Care Resource and Referral staff as additional support. Currently, special initiatives like the North Carolina Hope4Healers Helpline (1-919-226-2002) are connecting frontline workers to licensed mental health professionals. Advocating for increased funding for resources of this kind is one way to practice community care.

Of course, community care also means fighting against the injustices that keep providers struggling for survival, rather than thriving. A thriving workforce is one with access to fair wages, comprehensive benefits, quality working conditions and freedom from racial and gender-based violence and discrimination.

Are you a child care provider? How can the community show up for you as we move into the school year? Write to us here.

By Marsha Basloe, CCSA President

Since March 14 when all public schools across North Carolina were closed for in-person instruction, along with most Head Start programs, families with young children throughout the state have struggled to keep their families safe from COVID-19 exposure and illness, balance jobs and caregiving responsibilities, as well as support remote learning to the extent offered and possible. 

These challenges were made more difficult as the pandemic months wore on, which were hard for the wealthiest of families let alone those families who struggled to find and afford child care, who lost jobs or had a reduction in income or lacked access to the internet or technology such as a laptop or tablet to help support their children’s “remote learning.” It’s no wonder there has been a significant increase in anxiety, stress and depression.[1]

This week, the NC Division of Child Development and Early Education (DCDEE) released new guidance for NC Pre-K programs operating this fall.[2] DCDEE strongly encourages NC Pre-K programs to prioritize having students physically present in Pre-K classrooms for the 2020-2021 school year.[3] Why? Because children learn best in-person –­­ not through screen-time. Programs will operate for a full 36 weeks as usual, 6.5 hours per day, 5 days per week, beginning no later than September 8.

The goals are clear[4]:

  • All NC Pre-K students receive the benefit of fully in-person instruction to the fullest extent possible.
  • All parents/guardians are offered the option of in-person instruction for the full program year.
  • Remote learning will be available for NC Pre-K students as a last resort and used as sparingly as possible.

Because many NC Pre-K classrooms are operated in community-based child care centers, it is possible to operate NC Pre-K classrooms even while public schools are closed or switch to a hybrid model where Group A may attend two days per week and Group B may attend another two days in that week. Because child care centers are typically much smaller settings compared to public elementary schools and because pre-K classrooms generally have fewer students per class than the average K-6 classroom in public schools, pre-K operating within child care centers makes sense as an option for those parents who select it. Unlike public school attendance, participation in NC Pre-K is voluntarily selected by parents.

What we know is that COVID-19 took us all by surprise this spring.

Public schools and NC Pre-K shifted to remote learning in a heroic effort to promote continued learning while facilities were closed. At the same time, despite those heroic efforts, remote learning was at best an experiment. Little is known about its effectiveness. And, effectiveness compared to what – compared to onsite instruction? Compared to the absence of any learning packets, phone calls, texts or online engagement? What we do know is that remote learning is not the best format for 4 year-olds. There is no 4 year-old who can engage in remote learning without the support of an onsite parent or guardian. And, whether or not 4 year-olds are home with an older sibling while parents work, or have parents or grandparents who are not otherwise working or caring for other children so that they can devote the specific, individual time needed to support their 4 year-old’s remote learning is a real question. Unanswered to date.

In July, Duke University’s Center for Child & Family Policy released the results of a statewide survey of NC Pre-K lead and assistant teachers.[5] On average, lead and assistant teachers reported that the highest percentage of children in their classrooms received remote learning services weekly – 58 percent of children reported by lead teachers and 62 percent of children reported by assistant teachers.[6]

Unlike the daily onsite NC Pre-K program of 6.5 hours, only one-third of children reported by lead teachers received daily remote learning services (27 percent of children reported by assistant teachers received daily remote learning services).[7]

When asked about remote learning strategies most often used, in declining order by most often used were: phone calls and texting at #1, learning or activity packets at #2, email at #3 and Zoom and ClassDojo at #4 (video connections).[8] Certainly, teachers are to be commended for their outreach efforts, but at the same time, these efforts are really not comparable to the 6.5-hour regular onsite program.

Duke’s study also reported teachers’ perceptions on the greatest barriers to family engagement with remote learning. Time to engage with remote learning was rated as the largest barrier to family engagement (43 percent reported by lead teachers, 45 percent reported by assistant teachers), followed by reliable access to technology (22 percent reported by lead teachers, 23 percent reported by assistant teachers), reliable internet access (16 percent reported by lead teachers, 21 percent reported by assistant teachers) and some other barrier (19 percent reported by lead teachers, 11 percent reported by assistant teachers).[9]

Were there lessons learned from the remote learning experience from this past spring?

Yes. And, many are reflected in extra training and supports for NC Pre-K staff in the coming year. Yet, the biggest takeaway is that remote learning is still an experiment. And, that’s why it makes sense that the new DCDEE guidance emphasizes a priority for in-person NC Pre-K classrooms to the extent possible.

The most recent data shows 2,689 child care centers open throughout North Carolina.[10] On average, child care centers show enrollment of about 53 percent.[11] This means that many could have additional space to support pre-K classrooms should they be inclined to partner within their community to offer NC Pre-K. Statewide, more than 100,000 children are in licensed child care.[12] These children are in programs following public health safety and social distancing guidelines.

Existing research pertaining to online learning for K-12 students raises serious questions about remote learning effectiveness.[13],[14] A National Institute for Early Education Research (NIEER) study related to public pre-K students this spring found that only 23 percent of children previously served in public pre-K programs (pre-COVID-19) continued to receive meals and nutritious snacks.[15] Nearly one-quarter of public pre-K students with disabilities received no support and about 40 percent of pre-K students with disabilities received only partial support.[16] 

Given what we know about the school readiness gaps by income, by race, by ethnicity and the limited but questionable effectiveness of remote learning for 4 year-old children, DCDEE’s guidance recommending prioritizing in-person NC Pre-K instruction makes sense. With child care centers open and adhering to public health guidance on social distancing and experience serving the children of essential personnel this spring, it makes sense to give parents the option of enrolling children for onsite instruction this fall. There will be families who decide the onsite option is not for them. There could very well also be families who see the availability of onsite instruction as an opportunity for their children.

Utilizing child care centers as community partners makes sense. They are open for child care. It seems inconsistent to say that they can offer child care but not NC Pre-K. Local communities will be deciding soon. Decisions about onsite pre-K classrooms should not be linked to the operating status of public schools but whether capacity exists within community-based child care programs to safely follow Department of Public Health guidance to offer both child care and public pre-K. Children and working families depend on it.


[1] U.S. Census Bureau Household Pulse Survey, Week 12, July 16-July 21, 2020.
[2] NC Division of Child Development and Early Education (DCDEE), Interim COVID-19 Reopening Policies for NC Pre-K Programs, August 3, 2020.
[3] Ibid.
[4] Ibid.
[5] Duke University, Center for Child & Family Policy, The North Carolina Pre-Kindergarten Program and Remote Learning Services During the COVID-19 Pandemic: Findings from a Statewide Survey of Teachers, July 2020.
[6] Ibid.
[7] Ibid.
[8] Ibid.
[9] Ibid.
[10] Child Care Resources Inc. (CCRI), July 2020.
[11] DCDEE, July 2020.
[12] DCDEE, July 2020.
[13] Molnar, A., Miron, G., Elgeberi, N.,  Barbour, M.K., Huerta, L., Shafer, S.R., Rice, J.K. (2019). Virtual Schools in the U.S. 2019. Boulder, CO: National Education Policy Center.
[14] OECD (2015), Students, Computers and Learning: Making the Connection, PISA, OECD Publishing.
[15] National Institute for Early Education Research (NIEER), Young Children’s Home Learning and Preschool Participation Experiences During the Pandemic, NIEER 2020 Preschool Learning Activities Survey: Technical Report and Selected Findings, July 2020.
[16] Ibid.

By Marsha Basloe, CCSA President, and Jennifer Gioia, CCSA Communications Manager

“Child care has quietly been the backbone of our communities and economy, but the recent COVID-19 pandemic has exposed just how critical access to child care is for the functioning of our country. As we consider policies that can get the economy running again and reexamine how our federal, state, and local budgets reflect our priorities, it’s increasingly clear we must build a strong, resilient child care infrastructure that can support our families and the economy.”1

I bet you thought I wrote that. I didn’t.5

That paragraph was written by millennials at Next100 and GenForward. Millennials, now in their 20s and early 30s, are the largest generation in the U.S. workforce, making up roughly 35 percent of workers, and are soon to be the largest generation in the American electorate. Millennial women account for the vast majority of U.S. births,1 but many are delaying childbirth well into their 30s. And millennials are the most educated group in history; 61 percent are college graduates compared to 46 percent of baby boomers.2

It’s no leap to assume that same dedication to education would extend to their children. For millennial parents, child care isn’t just a service to get parents to work, but one that also helps children with school. Millennial parents aren’t just thinking about care, they’re thinking about learning.2

As revealed in a ground-breaking new survey from Next100 and GenForward, when weighing the decision to have children, access to affordable, high-quality child care actually plays a bigger role with millenials and Gen Zers (people ages 18 to 36) than student loan debt. Nearly nine out of 10 millennials and Gen Zers say the cost of child care is very or somewhat important in deciding whether or not to have children, according to the survey.4

Other survey results found the lack of affordable child care, alongside student loan debt and lack of affordable housing, affects the next generation’s decision to have children, further influencing their career and professional decisions.1 Overall, 81 percent of millennials and Gen Zers believe access to affordable high-quality child care is an important issue.4

Millennials Face Barriers When Starting a Family

Melinda is a millennial with a bachelor’s degree. Her student loan debt and the cost of child care are part of the reason she and her spouse haven’t had children yet. Another millennial, Jessica, is the mother of a 9-year-old. The high cost of child care forced Jessica to come up with a plan for care before having her daughter and has been a major factor in delaying a second child. With two post-secondary degrees and student loan debt, an increase in rent and a hope to buy a home, Jessica said the financial burden of child care worries her.

“Even now, when I only have to worry about before and after school care, it’s a significant part of my monthly budget, and any increase in that cost could render me unable to utilize before and after school care at all,” said Jessica.

Like many other millennials, once Jessica knew she wanted to have a child, her career and professional goals changed. “I actually switched my educational and career trajectory altogether and pursued an AAS in ECE and began working at a licensed child care facility in order to qualify for discounted child care. If I hadn’t, I have no doubt that I would not have been able to afford to work outside the home at all, and working at home was not an option at the time.”

Melinda is also seeing firsthand this trend of child care costs deterring millennials from starting or growing their families. “In my family and friends, I noticed that those around my age either haven’t started a family yet or they only have maybe one child,” she said. “But those that are like 10, 15 years older than us have multiple children.”

This support for child care comprises a multiracial coalition that crosses traditional ideological differences, even among those without children.  

Millennials are sending a clear signal that access to child care is a pivotal public policy issue that not only affects the economy but also shapes personal decisions around when—or whether—future generations have children.1

The Unaffordability of Child Care

The COVID-19 pandemic has shown us the true importance of accessible and affordable high-quality child care for families and our economy. Even before COVID-19, the cost of child care for millennials was unaffordable nationwide. According to Child Care Aware of America, the annual cost of center-based infant care cost millennials more than half of their median salary in 2019.3

In North Carolina, based on the yearly millennial median income of $20,966, 44 percent of that is spent on an infant in center-based child care and 82 percent of that is spent on an infant and a 4-year-old in center-based child care.3

Future Generations

For two generations that have been affected by recessions, precarious employment, stagnant wages and high student loan debt, the cost of child care represents yet one more financial burden. These survey results show the next generation already deeply understands the challenge we are facing.1

The child care system we had before COVID-19 wasn’t sustainable, and it won’t be there after COVID-19 if we don’t do anything about it. Our federal and state governments can help this generation and our future generations by rethinking public investment in paying for child care. It can no longer happen on the backs of young parents. Otherwise, after COVID-19, the United States might have fewer future generations having children and fewer future generations in the workforce for the ones that will have children. Strengthening the child care system strengthens the backbone of our communities and economy.


[1] https://thenext100.org/millennials-and-gen-z-want-affordable-child-care/

[2] https://www.brighthorizons.com/employer-resources/millennial-parents

[3] https://www.childcareaware.org/millennial-map/

[4] https://www.cnbc.com/2020/07/23/87-percent-young-adults-say-child-care-costs-impact-the-decision-to-have-kids.html

[5] Marsha Basloe is not a millennial. Jennifer Gioia is a millennial.

By Allory Bors, Research Coordinator at CCSA

Doris Gardner (pictured) is a family child care provider from Harnett County, North Carolina, with more than 20 years of early childhood experience and a master’s degree in early childhood education. She wrote to us in April after being denied a forgivable loan from the Paycheck Protection Program that would have helped her make up for lost revenue and afford cleaning supplies.

“I chose to stay open, not because of the money,” Doris said. “I already had lost my private pay, but because I love what I do and my parents value me and my children need me. COVID-19 is not the time for children to be thrown into a new environment, if possible.”

Indeed, child mental health experts suggest that consistent and supportive relationships are one of the most important factors for minimizing young children’s stress responses to the pandemic. Predictability offers emotional protection during a time when young children are more likely to develop anxiety, sleeping problems, depression or unusual behaviors. But, predictability is difficult to maintain when some child care family homes and centers don’t have the resources they need to stay afloat.

Rose Alvarez, a child care provider and T.E.A.C.H. Early Childhood® Scholarship recipient from Mebane, North Carolina, has been out of work since the end of March because her center had to close.

“The whole world is suffering because of the pandemic,” Rose said. “Sometimes, I sit and think of what I really want to do when things get back to ‘normal.’ Do I want to return to work or just stay home and be safe with my family because no one knows what ‘normal’ will be after this.”

Advocates have stressed that, for the vitality of the early childhood system in North Carolina, this “new normal” must be better than the state of things before the pandemic. COVID-19 has brought many pre-existing flaws in the early childhood system to the fore, including a lack of support for family child care providers. Family child care providers like Doris not only face the logistical challenges of being self-employed while applying for federal COVID-19 aid, home providers also receive a smaller amount of financial relief from state level DHHS grants as centers as it is based on numbers of children served.

“We operate like centers (curriculums, education, safety, etc.), have the same needs (materials, food, supplies, bills, etc.) and are held at the same standards,” Doris shared. “At the end of the day as an essential worker, putting my family as well as my [own] life on the line…I do not feel as if I am on the same playing field as [those] who have centers…My peers have shared my sentiments which is why some opt to close, and others are thinking of permanently closing.”

Luckily, Doris wrote us again in June, and said she was able to receive a small business loan, which is helping her continue to support her families, as well as a couple of new families who needed emergency care due to COVID-19. She and other home providers still face challenges. She worries about the impact of remote schooling on providers with school-age children, because of pre-pandemic limits on the amount of screen time children are allowed to have.

Rose is maintaining as well, working toward her associate degree and completing workshops from home, and trying out new recipes. Her center has reopened, so she is waiting for the child care ratio to increase to see if she will be needed back at work. Rose said, “All we can do is take care of ourselves…and our families near and far.”

Coping with the changes of COVID-19 and righting the wrongs in our early childhood system will not be easy, but it is how we care for all our families, near and far. One step CCSA is taking is our COVID-19 Child Care Relief Fund, which is now open for a second round of grant funding to North Carolina child care programs in need. Grants will range in amount from $1,000 to $5,000 depending on the magnitude of needs expressed, and the number of applicants awarded. Click here to apply by August 12, 2020, at 5:00 p.m.

If you are a child care provider, how can we best care for you? How are you caring for yourself? Write to us here if you would like to share your story, and have the chance to be featured in a future blog post.


Voices of Strength and Resilience in Early Childhood Blog Series

Introducing the Voices of Strength and Resilience in Early Childhood Series: What COVID-19 Teaches Us and What We Already Knew

Voices of Strength and Resilience in Early Childhood: Making Sense of March and April

Voices of Strength and Resilience in Early Childhood: The Trouble with “Heroism”

Voices of Strength and Resilience in Early Childhood: Unraveling May and June

To be continued…

Double-Check Voter Registration Status

By Sydney Frost, Communications Intern at CCSA

Voting is a significant civic responsibility that can bring forth meaningful change for our country. Elected officials hold considerable influence over decisions that impact early childhood education for children, families, educators and communities. However, before you vote, it is important to double-check your voter registration status.

Double-Check Voter Registration Status

Each year, North Carolina is legally required to remove thousands of registered voters from its voter rolls as a “maintenance routine,” that many refer to as purging. It is essential to double-check your voter registration status because this “maintenance routine” can happen to anyone, anytime (even after you’ve already registered to vote for the current election year). 

How to Register to Vote 

According to Democracy NC, 500,000 voters were legally removed from North Carolina voter rolls in 2019. So, how can you prevent this from happening to you? If you think that you’re already registered to vote, you can double-check your status here. If you’re not registered to vote, you can do so here

Checking your voter registration status and registering to vote is simple and quick! Every vote is important in this election, so double-check that you’re registered to vote today. It’s important to take action and double-check now because you don’t want to discover on election day that you’re not registered to vote. 

Register to Vote for Children and Families

North Carolina is a leader in early childhood education (ECE), and your vote impacts funding for educational budgets, educator salaries, nutrition and student safety. Our state’s youngest children are depending on us to vote for them this November.

One of the best ways to advocate for the ECE community is by sharing your voice through voting. It’s up to each of us to continue supporting child care programs so that North Carolina continues to be a leader in early childhood education and promotes better lives for our youngest children who depend on us. 

Child Care Services Association’s (CCSA) mission is to ensure affordable, accessible, high-quality child care for all families, which includes supporting the ECE workforce. CCSA is working with Democracy NC to provide important information about checking voter registration, registering to vote, absentee ballots and voting. You can find more resources at www.ncvoter.org.

boy toddler hugging teacher's leg

By Marsha Basloe, President, Child Care Services Association

Throughout North Carolina, with the onset of COVID-19, high unemployment and a reduction in income for many families, there are an increasing number of families with children at risk for homelessness. Governor Roy Cooper, through an executive order, and NC Supreme Court Chief Justice Cheri Beasley, through an emergency directive, prevented evictions for a temporary period, but that period is now over. And, yet, the conditions that lead to homelessness have increased, not declined.

U.S. Census Bureau surveyed households — April to now.

In April, the U.S. Census Bureau implemented a new Household Pulse survey,[1] which is disseminated weekly to households in every state. The survey is designed to obtain real-time data about the impact of COVID-19 on households. Currently, the Household Pulse survey shows results for Week 10 – July 2-7.[2] For North Carolina, the results are alarming, particularly for families with children.

The percentage of households with children experiencing a decline in income since March 13 far exceeds households without children who have experienced a decline in income.

When renters were asked whether they paid their rent last month or not, one out of five households with children responded that they did not make their rent payment, nearly double the rate of nonpayment of households without children.

More troubling is that nearly two out of every five families with children in N.C. said that they didn’t have any confidence that they would be able to pay next month’s rent or that they had only a slight level of confidence about paying next month’s rent.

Still more troubling, N.C. households who say that they have no confidence or only a slight level of confidence about paying next month’s rent are deeply divided by race and ethnicity. Nearly half of Black households, nearly one-third of Hispanic households and nearly one-quarter of mixed-race households report little confidence about paying next month’s rent.

In the Triangle area, communities are taking action to prevent evictions.

The Wake County Department of Housing Affordability and Community Revitalization has committed nearly $11.5 million in federal funding to provide housing support through community agencies.[3] The Chapel Hill Emergency Housing Assistance Program provides financial assistance for Chapel Hill residents facing a housing crisis or who need help securing permanent housing.[4] Durham County Crisis Assistance also offers rental support for households.[5] 

While eviction is traumatic for any household, it is particularly devastating for families with children. The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act passed by Congress in March includes a moratorium on evictions for households who live in properties receiving federal funding or backed by federal mortgages through July 25.[6] However, three out of every four households eligible for federal rental assistance do not receive it.[7] 

What can be done?

Governor Cooper can extend the moratorium on evictions for another six months. Coronavirus Relief Funds could be used to temporarily support rent payments as N.C. communities weather through the current public health emergency – prioritizing rental support for families with children. Without intervention, evictions for rent nonpayment will likely increase. The results of the Census Bureau Household Pulse Survey should serve as an early warning bell. 

Currently, there is no federal or state data system to track evictions. Eviction records are held within county court systems, which makes obtaining data difficult. Princeton University started an eviction lab that includes an Eviction Tracking System to monitor weekly updates on the number of eviction cases being filed across the United States.[8] To date, 11 cities are participating. More cities are expected to be added in the year ahead. The Eviction Lab website calls on cities and states that want to be added to the Eviction Tracking System to let them know at info@evictionlab.org.

Homelessness is devastating for children. The warning bells are sounding loudly. It’s time for action to prevent homelessness. We can temporarily halt evictions for families with children, provide temporary rental support and commit to tracking eviction data for state and community data driven policies.


[1] U.S. Census Bureau, Household Pulse Survey, Measuring Household Experiences during the Coronavirus (COVID-19) Pandemic.

[2] Household Pulse Survey Week 10, July 2-7, 2020 results.

[3] Wake County Department of Housing Affordability and Community Revitalization,.

[4] Chapel Hill Emergency Housing Assistance Program.

[5] Durham County Crisis Assistance.

[6] The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, P.L. 116-136.

[7] Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.

[8] Princeton University Eviction Lab.

*Graph Sources: U.S. Census Bureau Household Pulse Survey Week 10, July 2-7, 2020 results.

By Marsha Basloe, President of CCSA

There are many lessons learned from our ongoing experience with COVID-19, which continue to evolve to best promote the health and safety of North Carolina residents. One key take-away is the important role that child care plays as an essential service – to support essential personnel during our stay-at-home period and now to support both essential personnel and parents returning to work as the North Carolina economic recovery begins.

Pre-COVID, child care teaching staff throughout North Carolina earned about $10.97 per hour on average. Infant and toddler staff earned less – about $10 per hour.[1] Child care teaching staff who left the field reported pay as the number one reason for leaving their jobs.[2] The low pay of child care personnel is not new news. The Child Care Services Association has long documented the compensation challenges within the field through a series of reports over the last two decades.[3] But, what is new is the recent recognition of the need to compensate child care teaching staff better as front-line workers supporting all other workforces (as well as the healthy development of children).

In April, the NC Division of Child Development and Early Education (DCDEE) recognized the importance of the child care workforce and paid bonuses of $950 each per month for full-time teaching staff and $525 each per month for non-teaching staff.[4] Part-time employees received prorated amounts related to their hours.[5] Bonus payments were made for staff working onsite in April and May but ended in June.[6]  Programs that re-opened in May were eligible for prorated bonus payments.[7]

The intent of increasing compensation was to boost employee retention (and availability) at a time when child care was needed to support essential personnel. It was also a form of “hazard” pay recognizing that the likelihood of potential exposure to COVID-19 was greater for these workers. While it took a pandemic to increase compensation for the child care workforce, the implications are clear:

  • Child care pay is too low to retain the workforce to staff the needed supply of child care
  • As front-line workers, the child care workforce is more at risk of COVID exposure
  • Child care workers should be better compensated for the jobs that they perform

While many North Carolina businesses have re-opened, the situation on the ground for child care workers hasn’t changed. Parents returning to the workforce will need access to child care. The supply of child care depends on a stable and qualified child care workforce. There is no vaccine that has yet been approved and, therefore, child care workers remain on the front-lines at greater risk of COVID exposure (despite best efforts to comply with new health and safety requirements).

In the short-term, at a minimum, the bonus funding for child care workers should continue until there is an approved vaccine and North Carolina residents have been inoculated. They are heroes. The child care workforce is supporting all other workforces to ensure that North Carolina provides a needed onramp for parents to return to work. In the long-term, it’s time to rethink child care compensation, particularly for teaching staff who should be paid in a manner aligned with their credentials and experience.

Our experience with COVID offers all of us in the early childhood community an opportunity to re-envision child care in a post-COVID period. To say that the old system didn’t work well would be an understatement. Child care workers earned low wages, nearly half relied on some form of public assistance to support their families, and turnover was high.[8] I wrote a blog about child care compensation last November

Post-COVID, we should bring child care back better. We should use the interim period until a vaccine is developed and widely-used to identify ways to finance a high-quality child care system that appropriately pays the child care workforce aligned with achieved credentials or degrees in early childhood education such as an AA or BA in early childhood education or an infant/toddler certification.

Over the past few years, a group of early childhood advocates, service providers and state policymakers worked collaboratively to develop a recommended wage scale to better support child care teachers.[9] The challenge is to find a way to pay for it. Child care providers cannot be mandated to pay significantly higher wages, particularly at a time when their current economic model is in danger of collapse. Parents can’t pay more given the difficulty in affording current child care prices let alone the large increase in unemployment.

It is time to look at new ways to fund a child care wage scale. Everyone has a stake in the child care supply, which includes the workforce – whether individuals have a child or not. As witnessed during the state shutdown, child care is an essential service much like roads and bridges.  We all depend on parents with young children who are hospital workers, grocery store workers, sanitation workers, etc. whether or not each one of us has a child. And, therefore, we all depend on child care, which is more clear now given our experience with COVID.

Some of the options that could be considered involve Congress such as allocating funding to states to better pay the child care workforce. Other options involve the State Legislature considering ways to provide a publicly-funded wage scale for child care workers through the creation of new revenue strategies such as a state refundable workforce tax credit linked to professional development achievements or a publicly funded system of compensating early educators that could be funded through a state payroll surtax.

For example, employers and employees currently pay 6.2 percent of earnings up to $137,700, which is adjusted annually based on average wage growth. An increase of 0.5 percent could be added to the current tax (dedicated to a state child care workforce compensation fund). Another related strategy could be simply lifting the wage cap (e.g., to $1 million in income) with the increased revenue dedicated to a state child care workforce compensation fund. 

North Carolina is a leader in early childhood education. States often to look to us for innovative ideas. If a publicly-funded child care compensation strategy were to be developed, the collateral benefit would be a reduction in the cost of child care for families.

For example, currently the cost of personnel comprises about 70 percent of the typical operating budget for child care programs. If teaching staff were paid from a publicly-funded initiative, the fixed costs remaining for child care program operators would be significantly reduced, which means the cost of child care could be made more affordable for N.C. families – which translates to increased workforce participation. In this way, through financing innovation, we could address the top two challenges with child care: (1) low compensation for the workforce and (2) affordability for families.

It’s time to apply the lessons learned from COVID to potential solutions that serve our communities better – the child care workforce, all other workforces that depend on child care, children, working parents and employers. We can’t go back to the past that didn’t work well for anyone. Let’s roll up our sleeves and schedule some Zoom meetings to begin the conversation.


[1] Collaborating for Change in Compensation, NC Strategies.

[2] Child Care Services Association, Leaving the Classroom: Addressing the Crisis of NC’s Early Childhood Educator Turnover, February 2020.

[3] Child Care Services Association workforce compensation studies.

[4] NC Division of Child Development and Early Education (DCDEE), COVID-19 Child Care Payment Policies.

[5] Ibid.

[6] Ibid.

[7] Ibid.

[8] Child Care Services Association, 2015 North Carolina Child Care Workforce Report.

[9] Collaborating for Change in Compensation, NC Strategies.

By Allory Bors, Research Coordinator at CCSA

One might argue that the events of the past six weeks have been among the most important in United States history. As we were beginning to grapple with the continued economic fallout of the pandemic and a resurgence of new COVID-19 cases in many states, we found ourselves amidst an unprecedented movement to end white supremacy and police brutality and affirm that Black Lives Matter. Now is the time to boldly demand more from our government, institutions and communities. Now is the time to confront the impacts of white supremacy and misogynoir on our early childhood field, and to have meaningful, anti-racist conversations with our young children.

Breonna Taylor’s death particularly hits home in our field. As an essential healthcare worker, Taylor worked long hours, much like many in our child care community – particularly home-based providers. Black women and women of color are overrepresented in care professions, which pay infamously low wages. Within these fields as well, a profound racial pay gap persists. Taylor was also just beginning to fill out paperwork to attend community college next fall, much like many of the scholars our T.E.A.C.H. program supports. Many in our field are first-generation college students who work toward degrees by working and taking community college classes part-time.

Racism is a driving force that causes the underfunding and undervaluing of the early childhood field as a whole. Justice for the child care field can only be fully realized by putting an end to white supremacy, and we must give our full attention to racial equity in our industry. In response to these unjust killings, protestors are calling for reallocation of funding from police departments to social services, including child care. Advocates in the early childhood field are writing about how to talk to young children about race, how to support young children through racial trauma and how to address systemic discrimination and harm within our field.

How have you experienced or witnessed racism in the early childhood field? Do you have thoughts about how we can create anti-racist child care communities? Please write to us here to continue the conversation.

Below you will find some highlights from our COVID-19 timeline of May and June. Click here to view the full timeline.

North Carolina COVID-19 May and June 2020 Timeline Highlights

May 1The first deadline for child care providers to apply for CCSA’s COVID-19 Relief Fund, payments to be disbursed in June.
May 4Unemployment claims in North Carolina reach 1 million, which is 20% of the state’s workforce. So far, N.C. has made $1.27 billion in payments toward unemployment. Problems with the system persist, but since April 17 federal stimulus unemployment has been going into effect.
May 8Governor Cooper announces Phase 1 of the reopening plan.
May 11As of May 11, all child care programs are licensed to reopen upon approval of an application.
May 13The House of Representatives passes the Health and Economic Recovery Omnibus Act, or HEROES Act, the next proposed stimulus relief package. Though the bill would provide some major relief for families, renters and citizens with student loans, it falls short for the child care field.
May 14DCDEE announces new operational grants will be provided for child care facilities open in some or all of April, May and June to help cover losses from parent fees due to low enrollment.  
May 21Boston Consulting Group releases survey conducted in five countries including the U.S., which finds the bulk of household labor is falling to women, who are spending an average of 15 hours more than men on domestic work.
May 22North Carolina enters Phase 2 of the “Safer at Home” reopening plan. Despite this, the day after reopening, the state experienced the biggest single-day spike in cases since the beginning of the pandemic.
May 25White Minnesota police officer Derek Chauvin kills George Floyd, a Black security officer, father and Minneapolis community member. In response to Floyd’s death and the murders of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, Tony McDade, Titi Gulley and countless others, protests erupt in every single state in the U.S.   Born in Fayetteville, North Carolina, George Floyd is survived by his three children. His six-year-old daughter, Gianna, can be seen speaking about her father in this video.

Here and here are some resources for talking to young children about racism and police violence. The National Black Child Development Institute has a list of resources on helping children cope with racial trauma.
May 27House Representatives Rosa DeLauro (D-CT), Bobby Scott (VA) and Patty Murray (D-WA) propose the Child Care is Essential Act, which would provide $50 billion in funding to stabilize and support the child care field.
First Two Weeks of JuneAfter reviewing more than 1,000 applications in May, CCSA begins notifying recipients and releasing funds as a part of the CCSA COVID-19 Relief Fund.
June 4The Payroll Protection Program is revised, so that borrowers have more flexibility in how they can use the loan, and the likelihood that they will receive full loan forgiveness is increased.
June 14In celebration of Pride Month and in mourning of the recent murders of Dominique “Rem’mie” Fells, Riah Milton and Tony McDade, thousands rally outside the Brooklyn Museum in New York for Black trans lives. In North Carolina, the recent murders of three Black trans women – Monika Diamond, Chanel Scurlock and Keyiariah Quick – are still fresh. Being trauma-informed and treating Black LGBTQIA+ providers and young children with the utmost respect and dignity is one way the early childhood field can respond to this violence. The NAEYC has provided the following resource, titled “Embracing LGBTQIA+ Staff in Early Childhood Programs.”  
June 15NCDHHS publishes updated Interim Guidance for Child Care Settings, which outlines updated health and safety procedures based on continuing the reopening process, and increased knowledge about COVID-19.
Week of June 22Nearly four months after the first case in North Carolina, there have been a total of 53,840 cases, with 1,250 deaths.

Voices of Strength and Resilience in Early Childhood Blog Series

Introducing the Voices of Strength and Resilience in Early Childhood Series: What COVID-19 Teaches Us and What We Already Knew

Voices of Strength and Resilience in Early Childhood: Making Sense of March and April

Voices of Strength and Resilience in Early Childhood: The Trouble with “Heroism”

Voices of Strength and Resilience in Early Childhood: Providers Need Support to Cope with an Ever-Changing COVID-19 Reality

To be continued…