State cuts pull child care money from parents

Posted December 19, 2010 9:27 p.m. EST
Updated December 21, 2010 10:46 p.m. EST

Parents who use the state's early childhood education scholarship programs face tough decisions after funding for the program ran out Friday.

Kathryn Mason paid for her 2-year-old son Christopher to attend a child care academy in Durham with a Smart Start scholarship.

"Now he knows his colors, his shapes, his words," she said.

Mason was thrilled with her son's progress, but like many parents, she must now choose whether she can afford to keep him in child care.

Investing in early child care is important to development, said Sue Russell, president of the Child Care Services Association in Durham. She said 250 children in Durham will be affected by the cuts.

"A few of the families say, 'I can't do it. I am going to quit working,'" Russell said.

She added that the cuts will affect more than early child development. Parents that can't work may wind up on government assistance, and child care centers may struggle to stay in business, she said.

"It is sad, but it is unfair too," Russell said.

Russell is looking for investors to help struggling families put their children back in child care.

"Some kids get it and some kids don't and it is all about the money," she said.

So far, Russell has raised about $10,000, enough to keep 13 children in child care programs.