Child care subsidies help families with low-incomes afford early childhood education and care for young children before they are old enough to enter school.
- Child care subsidies are vouchers based on family income and size that help families pay for child care.
- Subsidy helps parents in low-wage jobs pay for child care so they can continue working.
Who Funds Subsidy?
- Subsidy is primarily paid for by state and federal funds.
- Most parents contribute a co-pay amount, often paying a percentage of their income
How Does Smart Start Use Subsidy?
- To ensure children are in higher quality care. Children receiving Smart Start subsidy are in higher quality programs compared to other subsidy funding sources.
- To improve workforce conditions. Smart Start provides enhanced payments for higher quality care, allowing child care providers to decrease child/staff ratios, pay better wages and provide benefits for their staff.
- To supports and stabilizes small businesses across North Carolina. Smart Start subsidy helps child care centers remain viable. North Carolina’s child care industry supported more than 47,000 jobs in 2008.
- To leverage additional money for the state. Smart Start funds are leveraged at the local level to bring in new community services, such as a matching fund for the Nurse Family Partnership home visiting program and Early Head Start.
- To provide flexibility that others cannot. Flexibility allows a community to better respond to the unique needs of families. Smart Start subsidy may:
- Extend child care to more families for longer periods of time.
- Pay for parents in school to receive subsidy beyond the state’s time limit.
- Provide care for children whose parents are seeking employment.
- To ensure local control. Local Smart Start partnership boards have representatives from the local community, including business, early childhood providers, parents, religious community, public education, health care providers, and many other community leaders.