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NCLCCA Advocacy Update

Advocacy Update: May 16, 2019

Read full report below for info about H882 as well as the House Budget...

Bill to Increase Teacher Education Requirements Moves Forward in State Legislature

House Bill 882, titled "Early Childhood Recommendations/DHHS has passed the NC House and now lies in the hands of the state Senate.  NCLCCA first wrote to you about the contents of this bill before it was ever introduced. We have serious concerns about the bill because it will undoubtedly raise the cost of child care in our state by increasing teacher education requirements.  We also believe it will make it harder for centers to hire and retain teachers to meet required staff-child ratios and gain star ratings required to participate in the Subsidized and NC Pre-K programs.

Many of you responded to our email calls for input (Action Alerts) by writing to your representatives in the state House about how House Bill 882 would impact your centers and families.  Unfortunately, the House passed the bill despite our serious concerns, giving their colleagues in the Senate their turn to act on the bill.  What the Senate chooses to do with the bill remains to be seen, but NCLCCA has been sharing providers’ concerns about the bill with key senators, explaining the harm it could do to North Carolina’s network of community-based licensed child care programs if it passes as written.  

What House Bill 882 Would Do:

  • Increase the minimum education requirement for lead teachers in licensed child care centers from the NC Early Childhood Credential (4 credit hours) to the completion of an “Infant Toddler Certificate” or “Preschool Certificate” (15 credit hours).   According to DCDEE, both certificates require 5 classes that can be taken at any NC community college  Lead teachers already employed before January 1, 2020, will have until July 1, 2021, to gain their Certificate.  
  • Institute a pre-service requirement for lead teachers hired after January 1, 2020, which would mean that all lead teachers hired after this date will need to have already earned their Early Childhood Credential before being hired and will have 18 months to get a Certificate.
  • Apply the same new educational requirements to “operators” of “family child care homes.”  Effective January 1, 2020, operators of family child care homes would have to have an Early Childhood Credential before gaining a license and would have 18 months from getting the license to get either an “Infant-Toddler” or “Preschool” Certificate.  
  • Direct DCDEE to develop and implement a program by July 1, 2020, to “incentivize higher teacher education and compensation levels by providing Subsidy payment enhancements to child care programs that use a salary scale and only employ lead teachers who have obtained a minimum of an Associate’s degree in child development or a related field.”  The amount of the incentives (“payment enhancements”) would vary based on the level of education attained by the teacher.  (The way the bill is currently written this program would only apply for Subsidy reimbursements/programs/teachers.)
  • Direct DCDEE to conduct a feasibility and cost study for the development of a pilot program for birth through age 3 classrooms that is modeled after the NC Pre-K program with all of its added requirements, including teachers with degrees, use of curriculum and formative assessments, improved ratios, etc. 

Who is pushing the changes in House Bill 882? 

DCDEE asked legislators to introduce the bill and it is being pushed and supported by groups both inside and outside of North Carolina:

Outside of North Carolina – A national non-profit organization focused on infants and toddlers called “ZERO TO THREE” launched a campaign called "Think Babies" in six states across the country, including North Carolina.  With its Think Babies campaign, ZERO TO THREE aims to change public policies across the country related to infant and toddler care.  To accomplish their goals, they have distributed resources and funding to different organizations and groups in their pilot states to carry out their advocacy campaign.  

Inside North Carolina – ZERO TO THREE/Think Babies has partnered in North Carolina with the NC Early Education Coalition  and Child Care Services Association, a state contractor involved in distributing educational scholarships and salary supplements for child care professionals, among other services.  (The NC Early Education Coalition includes the NC Partnership for Children, many local Smart Start Partnerships, the Child Care Services Association and other state contractors, as well as professional advocacy groups such as “NC Child” and "MomsRising".)  These state partners received financial support from the national groups to carry out the Think Babies campaign in North Carolina and push the contents of House Bill 882.  Other childcare-focused groups in the state supporting House Bill 882 include the NC Early Childhood Foundation and NC Association for the Education of Young Children (NCAEYC) .

Causes for Concern about House Bill 882:

 

  • Increases costs already out of reach for many families – An analysis last year from Child Care Aware of America showed that the cost of infant care in North Carolina ($9,254) is already more than the annual cost of college tuition at a four-year college ($7,385). The analysis further showed that a married family in North Carolina spends 11.6% of their income on center-based infant care and a single-parent family spends 40.1%, while the federal Department of Health and Human Services set a new standard two years ago that says it shouldn’t cost more than 7% of a family’s income.  
  • Worsens a childcare teacher shortage – There is already a childcare teacher shortage and the pipeline will show that the problem is not going to get better anytime soon.  We have heard that the NC Community College System has seen a decrease in enrollment in Early Childhood program of more than 20% from 2005-2017.  In fact, there are so few students enrolled in Early Childhood Certificate programs that the System’s web-based tool called NC Tower that provides aggregate information on student enrollment has to suppress the data to protect student privacy.  Moreover, for the last three years, Exchange – The Early ChildhoodLeaders’ Magazinehas cited the “shortage of qualified teachers” as the top threat to private childcare organizations based on its annual survey of the Top 50 childcare organizations in North America (ExchangePress.com, January/February 2019, 2018, 2017).

What Happens Next?

It is now up to the state Senate to decide whether to pass House Bill 882.  The bill will need a hearing in an assigned Senate committee before it gets a vote by the full Senate.  (It’s currently assigned to the Senate Rules Committee.) If the bill passes favorably out of its assigned Senate committee and then passes required votes on the Senate floor, it will be sent to Governor Roy Cooper for his signature before becoming law. 

NCLCCA is doing all that it can to ensure that members of the Senate are aware of providers’ concerns about the bill, but they also need to hear directly from providers.  NCLCCA makes it easy for providers to connect with their legislators with its web-based grassroots advocacy tool – it only takes a few clicks!  Whenever you see an Action Alert from NCLCCA arrive in your email Inbox, be sure to take action quickly to weigh in with your elected officials.  It can truly make all the difference! 

In the meantime, if you have specific concerns or stories about House Bill 882, let us hear from you – send us an email so we can share your stories with legislators as we continue to speak with them about this bill.

House Budget Proposal includes NC Pre-K Rate Increase, Expands Subsidy Funding 

The NC House passed its state budget proposal for the next two years on May 3, sending it to the Senate where changes are likely to be made.  By the end of the month, we will likely see the Senate pass a different version of a two-year state budget, which means the two chambers of the NC General Assembly will have to get together in a “Joint Conference Committee” to work out their differences.  

The compromise budget that emerges from the Conference Committee will be voted on by both the House and Senate and sent to the Governor for his signature or veto. Therefore, the child-care related provisions from the House budget highlighted in this update represent only a starting point and may change before a final budget is approved. 

NC Pre-K

The House budget proposal neither expands nor reduces funding for NC Pre-K slots; however, it does provide for a long-overdue reimbursement rate increase for providers participating in the program:

  • $7 million over two years for an NC Pre-K rate increase for child care centers – a 2% rate increase the first year (2019-20) and additional 6% rate increase the second year (2020-21).
  • The House budget also ties the NC Pre-K rate increase to increasing early childhood teacher salaries, as follows: “It is the intent of the General Assembly that funds pursuant to this section be used to increase the salaries of teachers working in child care centers as a means to address disparities in teacher salaries among teachers working in child care centers versus those working in public schools or Head Start centers.

NCLCCA Position – We have asked state legislators to increase NC Pre-K reimbursement rates to cover the full cost of the program requirements, as defined by the State’s (DCDEE’s) own study.  Making sure rates cover costs would mean roughly a 40% rate increase.  We will continue to urge the state Senate to include a larger NC Pre-K rate increase in their budget proposal than the House did. 

Subsidized Child Care Program

Overall, the House budget proposal included a $14.8 million funding increase to expand the program for roughly 1,100 eligible children.    

NCLCCA Position – NCLCCA will continue to advocate for expansion of the Subsidized Child Care Program to provide access to quality childcare programs for all subsidy-eligible families. NCLCCA will also continue to advocate for higher reimbursement rates that cover the costs of program requirements. According to the Center for American Progress, “child care subsidies only coverage the average cost of care for an infant in three states” and North Carolina is not one of them.

Further, the center’s report, shows that the monthly gap between North Carolina’s subsidy reimbursement rates and the cost of center-based care for infants – the most expensive to care for – is $133 for even “minimum” licensing standards. 

Smart Start 

  • $7 million funding increase over two years, but the funds are marked “non-recurring,” which means they are not available beyond Fiscal Year 2020-21.

Stay Informed, Be Involved & Share!

 

Remember to keep an eye on your email Inbox during the remainder of the legislative session so you don’t miss anything important.  NCLCCA members receive The Voice during legislative sessions to keep them up to date on legislative activity and news that affects their business and the families they serve.  Additionally, NCLCCA Action Alerts will let you know when it’s time to weigh in with your elected state legislators on important issues to make a difference.

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