RALEIGH, N.C. — A new study says the child-care industry in North Carolina accounts for at least 46,000 jobs and brings in $1.5 billion in annual revenue.
The report, released Wednesday by the
National Economic Development and Law Center
, says the industry has enough economic and social impact to justify government and business intervention to ensure the availability ofaffordable, high-quality daycare.
"Child care really does affect every aspect," said Jennifer Wohl of the National Economic Development and Law Center.
"We believe there is a direct correlation between the availabilty of quality child care and business success," said Barry Eveland, IBM senior N.C executive.
The report offers more than 40 examples of what can be done inthe state to strengthen the industry. They include fully financing
, the 11-year-old brainchild of former Gov. JimHunt.
Smart Start is a big part of child care in North Carolina. The program is designed to improve child care in the state by giving the poor better access. It also helps teachers attend college.
Smart Start began with a vision that every child would enter school healthy and prepared. Last year, it provided health screenings for nearly 100,000 children and paid day-care subsidies for more than 60,000 children.
More than a dozen states have modeled their programs after Smart Start.
"We're working on the right thing and we're doing it the right way," said Jim Goodmon, Capitol Broadcasting CEO.
North Carolina lawmakers have continued to cut Smart Start funding 17 percent in the past three years. Smart Start advocates say the cuts have come despite the program's success.
"The only way you can be successful is through investment," Goodmon said. "If we don't invest in our education system and do all of this, we're cooked and we're going in the wrong direction -- we're going backwards."
Two weeks ago, hundreds of parents and teachers came from across the state to push for Smart Start funding at the Legislature. Lawmakers have indicated they will not cut any more money from the program this year.