Dear Governor Perdue:
I am writing you today to ask that Smart Start be identified and protected as an essential service in North Carolina. Onslow County is a support community for Camp Lejeune and New River Air Station as you well know. Our community is one of seven in North Carolina that will see and have seen a significant increase in our population due to the influx of troops and dependants. Seventy-five percent of our children ages 0-5 are active duty military dependents. Every service our agency provides impacts military children. To cut Smart Start further means that you continue to cut services to active duty military children.
As you are well aware, child care keeps parents working and it is hard to imagine that our troops, who defend our country, are left wondering who is going to keep their children while they are working. For profit child cares and the Department of Defense are working diligently to increase the availability of child care slots but our population is growing faster than they are able to build. Currently, our child care facilities, including the Department of Defense facilities, are at maximum capacity and we are still left with a significant population we are unable to serve. This issue will only be amplified as more troops and their families are relocated to our area.
Furthermore, as the industry grows in our area we are facing another challenge and that is the lack of a child care workforce. With the projected child care facility growth we anticipate within the next three years, Onslow County will need to expand our child care workforce by 47.9%. The Onslow County Partnership for Children works closely with community leaders to keep child care in the forefront of everyone’s minds but we can only do so much and our Smart Start funds play a vital role in the success of our economic future.
Another economic impact Smart Start has for Onslow County is the child care subsidy that assists low-income families with paying for child care tuition so they may remain employed. This type of assistance has an economic impact both indirectly and induced. An example of an indirect effect of child care subsidy is from child care centers making purchases. The induced effect is from the child care workforce spending wages. Both of which generate revenue for North Carolina.
In closing, I am asking that you protect Smart Start funding. Smart Start has produced a significant return on investment for North Carolina and we cannot withstand more cuts and reversions. I look forward to your reply.
Executive Director, Onslow County Partnership for Children