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Tools & Resources

NC child-care assistance supports parents’ ability to work, future success of children

Child-care assistance is a key tool that helps families struggling to make ends meet afford high-quality early education for their children and get back to work. By increasing state funding for child-care assistance, North Carolina can ensure every child and family reaches their full potential.


  • Provide 55,000 children with access to child-care assistance in their community
  • Remove the requirement that parents with low incomes who receive child-care assistance pay 10 percent of their income toward child care


  • Ensures child care costs don’t put the squeeze on tight household budgets so struggling families can better make ends meet[1]
  • Increases access to high-quality child care and extends its health and educational benefits to more children.[2]
  • Reduces the likelihood of parents leaving the labor force and increases parents’ lifetime earnings, raising children out of poverty[3]
  • Has the potential to address barriers to child-care access for families of color[4]


Child care copays were paused during the COVID-19 pandemic, but as of July 1, North Carolina families receiving child care assistance will be required to pay 10 percent of their income toward child care, even though their low incomes qualify them for assistance.  For example, a family with $20,000 in earnings would have to pay $2,000 per year, forcing impossible choices between child care and rent or food.

  • 187,000 North Carolina children are eligible for child-care assistance but don’t receive it because of limited funding[5]
  • Lack of child care is the primary barrier to employment for more than 200,000 North Carolina parents.[6]
  • At least $2 billion in state funds are available this year and next fiscal year that are not yet appropriated

Our government should ensure everyone has the freedom to thrive by funding child-care assistance at a higher level, so parents are able to work and affordable, high-quality child-care centers are available to help create a foundation for all of our children’s success.


[1] “Child Care Costs in the United States, The Cost of Care in North Carolina,” October 2020. https://www.epi.org/child-care-costs-in-the-united-states/.

[2] Ryan, Rebecca M., Anna Johnson, Elizabeth Rigby, and Jeanne Brooks-Gunn. “The Impact of Child Care Subsidy Use on Child Care Quality.” Early Child Research Quarterly 26, no. 3 (2011): 320–31. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3160790/.; County Health Rankings & Roadmaps. “Child Care Subsidies,” October 21, 2021. https://www.countyhealthrankings.org/take-action-to-improve-health/what-works-for-health/strategies/child-care-subsidies.

[3] Giannarelli, Linda, Gina Adams, Sarah Minton, and Kelly Dwyer. “What If We Expanded Child Care Subsidies?” Urban Institute, June 14, 2019. https://www.urban.org/research/publication/what-if-we-expanded-child-care-subsidies

[4] Ulrich, Rebecca, and Stephanie Schmit. “Inequitable Access to Child Care Subsidies.” Center for Law and Social Policy, April 25, 2019. https://www.clasp.org/publications/report/brief/inequitable-access-child-care-subsidies/.

[5] Harris, Logan. “Expanding Access to Child Care Assistance Will Help Working Families in North Carolina Get Back to Work and Support Children’s Healthy Development.” North Carolina Justice Center, June 8, 2021. https://www.ncjustice.org/publications/expanding-access-to-child-care-assistance-will-help-working-families-in-north-carolina-get-back-to-work-and-support-childrens-healthy-development/.

[6] McHugh, Patrick, Logan Harris, Emma Cohn, and Christopher Chaves. “State of Working NC: Protecting & Connecting Workers.” North Carolina Justice Center, September 4, 2021. https://www.ncjustice.org/publications/state-of-working-nc-2021-protecting-connecting-workers/.