$1.3 billion coming to North Carolina childcare centers

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GREENSBORO, N.C. — $1.3 billion is coming to North Carolina childcare centers.

It’s just a piece of the $39 billion American Rescue Plan funds that will be distributed to childcare centers nationwide.

Local day cares owners in the Triad told FOX8 this money could not have come at a better time.

They said enrollment has dropped since the pandemic started, which means they’re struggling to pay rent, payroll, and the necessary cleaning and protective supplies to keep staff and kids safe.

Some childcare owners have even had to shut their doors because they can’t make ends meet.

Karen Root is one of them.

The owner of the Greensboro hourly childcare center, Stay and Play made the difficult decision to close in September.

After the pandemic hit, she struggled to make ends meet.

“We just weren’t having a lot of attendance. We weren’t able to qualify for many of the grants, so we had hardly any money coming in,” said Root. “[It was hard] to pay rent, pay payroll, and everything that’s needed for safely running a day care.

She’s now working at Unique Busy Kids in Greensboro, which is another hourly, drop-off day care.

But Root is still concerned.

“We just don’t get the funding that’s needed,” she said.

Unique Kids doesn’t qualify for the American Rescue Plan funds or some of the other grants, because of certain requirements on locations for part-time day cares.

“We go by everything they ask of us,” added Root. “We feel we should be able to receive some funds.”

But for those who are eligible for the money, it’s a vital lifeline.

“Thank you, Jesus,” laughed Shelica Ingram.

Ingram is the owner of Lafrees Academy of Higher Learning in Greensboro.

“I had 85 kids before the pandemic, and when the pandemic hit, it dropped down to 14 kids,” she said.

While the enrollment is getting better, as everything begins to re-open, money is still tight.

She’s looking forward to this financial assistance.

“People don’t know how much goes into running a childcare business,” said Ingram. “Any bit will help. Any amount we’ll be grateful for.

She told FOX8 this help should have come sooner, and many places are struggling.

“It’s long overdue. I feel like it shouldn’t have taken a pandemic for day care businesses to get help,” explained Ingram. “It’s sad it had to take something so tragic for day care business owners to feel like they can breathe.”

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