Here are Governor Cooper’s budget highlights of Investments in Early Learning:
- Expands funding and eliminates the waitlist for NC Pre-K so that by July 1, 2018 an estimated additional 4,668 at-risk four-year olds will receive high quality pre-kindergarten classes.
- Invests $15 million in Smart Start to provide support and flexibility to all 100 counties to improve early childhood educational outcomes and better prepare children for school.
- Funds an additional 2,000 slots for children from low-income working families to receive subsidized, high quality child care services and increases the Child Care Subsidy market rate by 25% of the most recent market rate survey in selected counties.
- Restoration of the NC Child and Dependent Care tax credit provides tax relief to middle class families. Cooper recommends enacting a child and dependent care credit for families with eligible care expenses for children and other dependents. This credit, effective beginning in tax year 2018, would save taxpayers an estimated $52.5 million in FY 2018-19.
“From the General Assembly continuing to expand NC PreK over the past several years and working to align the birth to eight continuum including the transition to kindergarten, to the Governor increasing investments in Smart Start, NC PreK, and subsidy, our state leadership is working hard to ensure each child in every community has a strong foundation for a lifetime of success.” stated Cindy Watkins, President of the North Carolina Partnership for Children, the organization that oversees the Smart Start network.