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Cooper promotes child care grants in Charlotte, as Cohen encourages COVID vaccine

Maria Ramirez Uribe
North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper visited LeafSpring School daycare in Charlotte on Oct. 21 to discuss newly announced child care stabilization grants.

North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper visited LeafSpring School daycare in Charlotte on Thursday to discuss the newly announced child care stabilization grants.

The $805 million program will provide federal funding from the American Rescue Plan to licensed child care providers.

“Being here today to see firsthand what happens here, to talk to these teachers who are giving their lives for this because they love these children so much,” Cooper said. “Teachers who are burning it at both ends working overtime because of the reduction in workforce.”

Cooper says low pay and the difficulty of the work is leading to reduced staffing at child care centers. He says the child care stabilization grants will improve working conditions and help recruit and retain staff.

“We know that we need quality child care to make sure that our parents can be in the workforce,” Cooper said. “Right now, we have jobs that we need to fill. And part of the issue is that a number of parents do not have quality child care.”

Child care centers across the state can apply for the grants and will be awarded anywhere from $3,000 to $60,000 based on their size and need.

The money can be used for bonuses, benefits or other incentives to help retain and hire new employees. State Health Secretary Mandy Cohen, who was also at the news conference, said the funding can go toward mental health services. She said 2,000 child care centers across North Carolina have already applied.

Cohen also took the time to urge parents to vaccinate their children once the vaccine is available for those ages 5 to 11. Federal health agencies are expected to approve the vaccine in the next few weeks. And local health care providers could start giving shots as early as Nov. 4.

“I will say, as the mom of a 7- and a 9-year-old who is currently unvaccinated, we’re going to be at the front of the line to get our vaccines,” Cohen said.

The federal government is sending North Carolina 124,500 doses of the Pfizer vaccine for children, the only vaccine thus far that has applied for approval for that age range. Mecklenburg County Public Health is expected to have the largest initial allocation.

During the visit, Cooper also spoke about the state’s budget. He said he believes a consensus on North Carolina’s budget can be reached. This comes after Republican lawmakers in Raleigh sent a revised budget proposal to the governor.

“No issue is off the table at this point, and I don't believe it is from the speaker's perspective either, because he has continued to tell me that no issue is off the table,” Cooper said.

The state budget was supposed to be in place by July 1, but slow work at the legislative building combined with big differences between the two plans have extended talks from the summer into the fall.

Some of the biggest differences between the governor and Republican lawmakers are over tax cuts, teacher pay and spending on public education.

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