6,200 Wake children on waiting list for daycare assistance
Posted February 3, 2012
Raleigh, N.C. — For parents of young children, paying for day care can be like paying a second mortgage. Placing an infant in a five-star center in Wake County costs an average of $1,173 per month, according to Wake County Human Services.
The county has a program that helps low-income, working parents pay for day care, but state budget cuts are putting a strain on that help.
The program pays families an average of $555 a month for day care assistance. The amount depends on the age of the child and the star rating of the facility. Parents can choose any licensed day care that agrees to receive subsidized children. Search for regulated child care facilities in North Carolina.
The state created the five-star rated license system to help parents identify quality childcare. One star means that a day care meets North Carolina's minimum standards. Two to five stars means it has met higher standards.
More than 5,000 Wake County children get their day care subsidized through the program. With a $4.2-million budget cut, the county’s human services department can't take on any new families in need.
More than 6,200 children are on the waiting list, which “continues to grow,” and there is no guarantee they will get any day care assistance, according to Gloria Cook, a child care subsidy program manager with Wake County Human Services.
“It just depends on when funding would become available,” Cook said.
The county also had to reduce its level of service and no longer pays day care registration fees or for transportation, she said.
Cheryl Riley’s 4-year-old son Gabe is one of the 5,000 children who use the program. She sends him to a four-star center, with Wake County paying part of the cost.
“If I had to pay regularly, it would cost way too much, like $800 to $900 (a month),” Riley said. “I wouldn’t be able to work if I didn’t have it, or at least not as much. I’d be limited in what I can provide for Gabe.”
WRAL News reached out to Republican state lawmakers about the budget cuts. Sen. Richard Stevens, R-Wake, says the state was facing a $3-billion deficit, so cuts were made to almost all programs.
Sen. Neal Hunt, R-Wake, says he and other lawmakers did all they could “to minimize the impact on services that help at-risk families and some of our most vulnerable citizens, including making programs more efficient."