(WGHP) –Even though abortion restrictions are the main topic in a new bill, there are other changes for parents included. Everything from paid maternity leave to foster care payments and child care is found at the bottom of the bill.
The entire bill is 46 pages, and the majority of that deals with abortion restrictions. But the remaining pages have impacts on parents.
State workers, including teachers, would get up to eight weeks of paid parental leave, which right now is unpaid. Additional funding for foster care and childcare could also be on the way.
The bill proposes raising the payments for foster parents. The rates are currently $514 a month for kids ages birth to 5 years old, $654 a month for kids ages 6 to12 and $698 a month for kids ages 13 to 21.
But under the proposal, they would jump up more than $100 a month. The new rates would be $702 a month for kids birth to 5 years old, $742 a month for kids ages 6 to12 and $810 a month for ages 13 to 21 for the foster care assistance and state adoption assistance programs.
One of the biggest spending items in the bill deals with childcare. It proposes spending about $75 million to increase childcare subsidy market rates. That is the money provided to the childcare centers by the state for low-income families.
But according to the North Carolina Early Education Coalition, the centers are currently receiving the most updated rates from ARPA funds. Tfunding in this bill ensures that they continue to receive that same amount into the future.
“Really the rates from 2018 up to 2021 they were already behind already, so they really didn’t impact us the way that we needed,” said Emma Biggs the campaign chair for the NCEEC.
If the bill does not pass, the centers would receive less funding again once the ARPA funds run out.
“The cost of food is going up. The cost of utilities is going up,” said Lauren Havens from the Randleman Enrichment Center.
Havens says they are just trying to stay afloat and keep their 45 staff members.
“Our payroll is enormous even though we can’t give them anything near what they deserve because they work tremendously hard. They deserve much more than we can afford to pay them,” Havens said.
The extra funds not only help pay the bills but also allow subsidized parents to stay in the program, and parents who pay the full price don’t have to pay more.
“We really do need this money, but we need more money also,” Biggs said.
The majority of the funding changes would start in July if this goes through. The house is expected to vote on this lengthy bill on Wednesday night.