DURHAM, N.C. (WTVD) -- There are growing calls for new investment in child care in North Carolina.
On Tuesday, Gov. Roy Cooper and nine other state leaders sent a letter to Congress urging bipartisan action to increase childcare funding and bolster the workforce. The letter noted that 90,000 childcare workers have left the industry since February 2020, representing a 10% decrease in the workforce.
Karyn Wilkerson of Kiddie Kollege in Durham has seen how difficult it is to balance tuition and teacher salaries firsthand.
"There's a teacher crisis, and we cannot find teachers or people that want to go into this field. And I think a lot of it has to do with the pay, and in order to meet the demand of the pay, we need more funding," Wilkerson said.
The issue is touching families across the financial spectrum. At Durham's Partnership for Children, a non-profit organization that helps defray the costs of child care, Brittany Gregory said a state-funded investment in child care would be just that.
"We need that investment because early care and education, child care helps run this economy here. In Durham and as well as across North Carolina," Gregory said.
Gregory said it has to start with making current workers feel valued in their profession.
"Our families need access to care, to be able to be fully present at work and then also our teachers, many of them are highly, highly qualified with degrees, master's degrees, certifications and making $12 an hour doesn't cut it," she said.
Joy Spencer of Durham has a 4-year-old daughter and knows firsthand how difficult it can be to balance a budget given childcare costs.
"I don't think I can even like articulate the amount of stress it feels to try to be a good parent, but also try to afford other basic needs at the same time," she said.
Spencer said she's had to make some impossible decisions and feels parents get caught in the middle of the issue.
"So it kind of sometimes makes you feel like a bad parent," she said. "Do I go to work or do I take time to take my kid to the park?"