Child Care


Supporting Employee Child Care Needs Boosts the Economy, Leads to Better Health and Well-being for Children and Families

Access to stable, high-quality early care and education is crucial to ensure children develop on track and are prepared for school and life success. Yet one in three working families is struggling to find child care, and even when care is available, it’s often unaffordable.

  • More than 70 percent of NC parents and caregivers have had difficulty finding a satisfactory child care arrangement during the pandemic.
  • Child care gaps affect both rural and metropolitan communities. The Bipartisan Policy Center found that the child care gaps in rural areas exceeded supply by 35 percent, as compared to 29 percent in metropolitan areas.
  • Child care in North Carolina costs more than college tuition
  • A worker who earns minimum wage in North Carolina needs to work full time for 33 weeks—from January to August—to pay for child care for one infant. 

When parents and caregivers can’t find care, it impacts business and the economy:  

  • Millions of workers—most of whom are women—have left the workforce because of care needs. This contributes to ongoing workforce shortages and slows economic growth.
  • In a January 2022 Census survey, one in four parents and caregivers of children five and under say they’ve had to cut work hours, taken unpaid leave, left a job or held off a job search because of child care.  
  • Annual losses from inadequate child care cost NC families, businesses and the economy $2.9 billion a year as of December 2020, according to research from the North Carolina Early Childhood Foundation. That number has likely increased. 
  • College students who are parents are 10 times less likely to finish a bachelor’s degree within five years. Degrees and professional certificates can increase prospects for more employment opportunities.

We’re in a double bind, and this crisis isn’t going to go away. But the good news is that we can start to solve it today.

Employers play an important role in addressing child care needs for their employees. Some are doing so already, and others are interested and not sure how to proceed.

This section of the Guide walks you through child care policies that support employees; outlines how each can be structured; notes best practices where they exist; and explores some of the new approaches that are happening across the country.

Let’s Get Started.

We understand that this is a complex issue, and you may need more support. 

Need a first step?

Start with a survey of employees to understand the need for child care, their preferences for care and what could help them.

Ready to add child care services but need a partner who knows the industry?

The North Carolina Child Care Resource & Referral Council can help.

The Child Care Resource & Referral Council (CCR&R) enables families, practitioners and communities to recognize, support and access high quality, affordable child care. Employer-supported CCR&R services can be a cost effective option for an employer. There is a tax credit available for CCR&R services, and services can be easily made available to all employees—which allows employers to meet IRS rules. Available services include:

  • educational workshops; 
  • expanded referral services for employees, which include virtual or in-person education sessions that can be available at the employer’s worksite;
  • materials about developmentally appropriate practices and information about the NC child care quality rating system; 
  • individually tailored referral services with vacancy checks; 
  • And reviews for specialized services, such as for families with special needs such as developmental delays, medical support, language needs, etc.

Curious about other practices that support employees with their child care needs?

Check out these sections of the Guide:

Ready to be an advocate for public policy to address child care challenges in our state?

Email Lisa Finaldi, NCECF’s Community Engagement Leader, at