Local child care directors worried enrollment is down

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RANDOLPH COUNTY, N.C. -- Two Randolph County child care centers are concerned their enrollment is dropping.

Tracy Harrell is the director and owner of Randleman Child Enrichment and says they’re down thirty to forty children compared to this time last year.

“We’re low on kids. None of my staff has been on a full-time basis for the last two or three months,” Harrell said.

In Asheboro, Katherine Varner said the same thing. “By the end of this month, I’m going to have to lay off some employees. I don’t want to. It’s the last thing I want to do.” She runs Building Blocks for Tiny Tots.

They said many of their kids’ parents have been on a waiting list for vouchers from the state’s child care subsidy program. They’ve tried to help care for kids and offer the lowest rates they can afford to working parents.

“Day care should be one of the biggest things we have money for so that people can go to work and we don’t have so many people on all the other programs, or unemployment or sitting at home not doing anything. Everyone needs to be doing their part,” Varner said.

The Randolph County Department of Social Services tells FOX8 during the last fiscal year ending on June 30 of this year, the county spent $4,226,050 on the Child Care Subsidy program which served between 900 and 1,000 children per month depending on the month.

DSS Assistant Director and Business Officer Richard Park explained, “Our initial estimate provided to us in February 2015 for this fiscal year that began July 1, 2015 was $4,068,694. We spent that at a rate of 110.37 percent for the first two months waiting on the actual allocation serving an average of over 900 children for those two months.”

Yesterday the county found out they’ll receive $4.36 million this year for the program, more than they spent last year, so they’ll be issuing more vouchers to those eligible.

“After adjustment, the number of children served will be back closer to the 1,000 per month mode,” Park said.

Tracy and Katherine hope that will help drive enrollment up for their businesses.

Park also said the lowest numbers are during the summer months when the children are out of school and the monthly costs are higher. Park added, “We have not reduced services for anyone receiving that remained eligible and are maintaining our spending rate to serve the most children possible with the funds available.”