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Continuing to Identify Opportunities to Lead: Child Care Coalition Convenes

The NC Chamber Coalition on Child Care convened this week to talk about the latest developments around this critical barrier to work.

State Hiring a Child Care Business Liason

Ariel Ford, director of the Division of Child Development and Early Education for the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services, joined the call with an update on the Child Care Business Liaison position being filled by the N.C. Department of Commerce. This person will be responsible for identifying meaningful ways in which employers can help build the child care infrastructure, including resources for businesses and policy opportunities to encourage/incentivize employer engagement. The state has received an incredible number of applicants and is beginning to vet those now.

Ariel also provided an update on some of the nuanced details being worked through to expand capacity at in-home child care providers. On a future call, Ariel will be back to introduce the Child Care Business Liaison and to talk more about DCDEE’s legislative agenda.

Businesses Continue to Make Child Care a Priority

New coalition member and NC Chamber Cornerstone member Herbalife has been doing a lot of work on this issue at the federal level. Gene Corbett, vice president of human resources, shared that they feel they are missing out on a large population of employees that cannot find child care or they cannot afford it. Herbalife sees this as a competitive advantage for talent. Located in a child-care desert, they are engaging with fellow business leaders, economic developers, and community leaders as they work to find ways to make access more affordable for companies and families. Gene was quick to point out that the child care industry is not immune to talent challenges, which is only exacerbating our state’s challenges. The child care providers on the call echoed his sentiment, sharing that there is capacity that is unused due to lack of talent and staffing is their biggest cost driver.

Herbalife employs anywhere from 800 to 1,100 people at its 800,000 square-foot manufacturing facility, serving 94 markets.

Tri-Share Pilot Nears a Milestone

Safiyah Jackson, chief strategy officer at the North Carolina Partnership for Children, provided an update on the Tri-Share pilot. As a refresher, the Division of Child Development and Early Education and North Carolina Partnership for Children are working to establish a two-year pilot program to implement the Tri-Share Child Care program, a program that creates a public/private partnership to share the cost of child care equally between employers, eligible employees, and the state.

An NC Chamber Cornerstone member, NCPC leads Smart Start. Tomorrow they will announce up to three regions that have been selected for the pilot. The goal is to have families served by June/July.

NC Chamber Foundation Commissions Research

The NC Chamber Foundation has commissioned a subject matter expert in child care/early childhood education policy to conduct research to identify evidence-based, data-driven, employer-focused policies or policy proposals to address the child care supply shortage in North Carolina. This research will draw on the work already implemented, in development, or proposed by other organizations and states. The initial phase of the research will be completed by April and the second phase will be completed at the end of this year.

Movement on the Regulatory Front

Coalition member Sherry Melton, senior consultant with Ken Melton & Associates, closed the meeting by updating that the NC Child Care Commission, the rulemaking body for licensed child care, is undertaking QRIS reform. QRIS stands for Quality Rating Improvement System and is how licensed child care centers get their star, or quality, rating. The rating impacts their ability to serve low-income families who qualify for child-care subsidies and are eligible for the NC Pre-K program for at-risk four-year-olds, as well as their reimbursement rates for serving subsidy-eligible families.

North Carolina’s rating system is the oldest in the country and has not been altered or modernized in two decades. QRIS modernization is necessary in order to expand the licensed child care talent pool to help meet demand.

At its meeting on Monday, Feb. 12, the commission will discuss and vote on QRIS reform/modernization recommendations for the NC General Assembly. Click here and scroll to the bottom of the page to receive meeting notices.

Get Engaged

Want to be part of these discussions? Click here to join the NC Chamber’s Coalition on Child Care.