Child Care in North Carolina: Survey Results

Blog | January 28, 2021


The North Carolina Early Childhood Foundation (NCECF) recently released the results of a new survey designed to assess the economic impacts associated with insufficient or lacking child care on families, businesses, and the state’s economy before and during the COVID-19 pandemic. The survey collected information from 802 respondents across the state, while Dr. Clive Belfield from City University of New York and Columbia University provided an economic analysis. Several findings include:



  • Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, inadequate affordable, high-quality child care resulted in $2.4 billion in losses annually in North Carolina.


  • Families were losing more than $1.5 billion in current and future earnings. This number has increased to $1.8 billion. Furloughs, reduced work hours, and lost jobs were among the factors attributed to lost current and future earnings. Many parents also reported diminished career prospects as a result of challenges related to inadequate child care.


  • Businesses were losing $507 million in current and future revenue. This number has increased to $579 million. Businesses were found to have reduced productivity and profitability due to an unstable workforce as parents struggle to navigate child care-related challenges.


  • North Carolina’s economy was losing $414 million in current and future tax revenue. This number has increased to $472 million. Lower incomes and lost revenue by businesses results in a smaller state and local tax base, ultimately limiting economic growth.


  • In total, annual losses due to inadequate affordable, high-quality child care have increased to $2.9 billion since the start of the pandemic, reflecting the additional strain on families, businesses, and the state’s economy.



The survey findings also reflect the disproportionate impact of the pandemic on rural communities and historically marginalized populations:



  • Only 15% of rural families were accessing formal child care at the time of the survey, representing a decrease from 44% before the pandemic.


  • Women of color more frequently reported that their child care provider is no longer open and an alternative is not available and/or affordable due to reduced income.



The full results of the survey and economic analysis can be found here.


Essentials for Childhood Framework


Since 2014, the North Carolina Institute of Medicine (NCIOM) has partnered with several organizations to implement strategies focused on child maltreatment prevention and promoting safe, stable, and nurturing relationships and environments for children and families under the CDC Essentials for Childhood framework.


This framework includes strategies to provide economic supports for families (including policies to address income and food and housing security), enhance trauma-informed practices and communities, and ensure family-friendly workplace policies. North Carolina Essentials for Childhood provides funding support to our partners engaged in these activities:


  • The North Carolina Early Childhood Foundation’s Family Forward NC (FFNC) initiative, which is focused on improving children’s health and well-being and keeping North Carolina’s businesses competitive. Business-led change to increase access to research-based family-friendly practices improve recruitment and retention and workplace productivity, while growing a strong economy that supports children’s healthy development. Through the FFNC initiative, the North Carolina Early Childhood Foundation educates and engages employers about the value of providing family-friendly workplace benefits and moves employers to add new family-friendly benefits to their workplaces.


  • Prevent Child Abuse North Carolina’s awareness campaign, Connections Matter. Through a series of training modules, promotional strategies, and personal stories, the Connections Matter initiative aims to emphasize the importance of family and community relationships in building resilience for children impacted by trauma and other adverse childhood experiences.


  • MomsRising’s ongoing work to build public awareness about the benefits of paid leave policies, and to increase community capacity for implementation at the local level. MomsRising is working to engage community-level stakeholders, provide technical assistance to local governments, and coordinate storytelling campaigns and media toolkits for community partners.


  • NC Child’s work to create an interactive data resource, while also providing direct technical assistance to organizations working to develop communication strategies using disaggregated data. NC Child will also conduct training webinars focused on analyzing, displaying, and communicating data that will be accessible to organizations across the state.