Child care subsidy 101: Advocacy Toolkit

Why is the Child Care Subsidy program important?

Ada & Jessica WoodridgeThe Child Care Subsidy Program promotes opportunity and success for working parents and their children. The program provides income eligible parents that are working or in school/college a voucher to cover part of the cost of licensed early childhood, preschool, and after school learning and care programs. This helps lower-wage working parents stay in the workforce and simultaneously provides high quality, dependable care and learning environments for their kids. That’s a formula for family and child success!

The cost of quality care and learning centers can be $7,000 – $10,000 per year for a child. The voucher helps parents meet that expense. By using the program, children are in safe, quality settings that parents might otherwise not be able to afford.

Without vouchers, many working parents must make difficult choices between work, unemployment, leaving their children in less than ideal arrangements, or paying for care but then not being able to meet other expenses like housing, utilities, transportation, and food.

Where does the money and rules for subsidy come from?

Money for the Child Care Subsidy Program is budgeted and approved by the US Congress as part of the Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCBDG) and then additional money is budgeted and approved by the NC State Legislature.

That combined pot of money is divided between North Carolina’s 100 counties based on a formula created and approved by the NC State Legislature.

Some eligibility guidelines are set by the federal government, but each state has flexibility to adjust those guidelines. The NC State Legislature approves the eligibility guidelines for NC families and the NC Division of Child Development and Early Education (DCDEE) runs the program and makes sure all the guidelines are enforced across the state.

“Every dollar we invest in high-quality early education can save more than seven dollars later on—by boosting graduation rates, reducing teen pregnancy, even reducing violent crime,” President Obama said.

What are the recent eligibility changes?

The NC Legislature and Governor McCrory made eligibility changes that impacted families in both 2014 and 2015. Following is a list of the final changes:

• Eligibility for parents with children birth – through 5 years-old dropped from 75% of the State Median Income to 200% of the Federal Poverty Level. For a family of four, that resulted in reducing income eligibility from $50,244 to $47,700.

• Eligibility for parents with school age children (6 through age 12) dropped from 75 % of the State Median Income to 133% of the Federal Poverty Level. For a family of four, that resulted in reducing income eligibility from $50,244 to $31,721.

• Parent copay fees were set at 10% of annual income regardless of family size or full/part-time care.

• Parents can pay a prorated parent fee for part-time child care. Full-time care is 32 hours a week. Before 2014, a parent could pay from 50%-75% of the full time fee, depending on the number of hours their child was enrolled. In 2014, the parent was responsible for 100% of the fee, no matter how many hours their child was enrolled. However, the legislature revised this policy in 2015 allowing parents to pay 75% of the fee if their child is enrolled part-time.

• The 2015 budget restores NC’s previous definition of “family income unit,” so that the income of relative caregivers, like grandparents, doesn’t count against a child’s eligibility. Due to a provision in the 2014 budget, this provision was temporarily removed for part of 2015 and caused many children to loose eligibility.

• The child care subsidy program received additional funding in the 2015 NC  budget. This has made it possible for many children on the Buncombe County waiting list to receive child care vouchers (as of Dec. 2015). Unfortunately, parents are experiencing difficulties in finding available placements for their children.

Why is there a waiting list for child care subsidy?

The state dollars approved by the NC Legislature for the program has significantly dropped since 2008 and Congress had not made a major increase to the program either. That means that many families that are eligible for the program cannot get a voucher because there isn’t enough money to serve them all.

What can I do?

• Write, call, email your legislators and Governor McCrory and ask them to increase our state’s investment in child care subsidy to serve more children.

• If you have a voucher, or lost eligibility, share your story about why this matters to your family with elected leaders and the public. You can use the Facebook page ( as one way to make your story public.

• Share this information with your friends and other parents – the more people informed and contacting their elected leaders, the better!


Gather your friends, fellow students, parents, faith community and have a phone-banking session! Use the script below directly, or use it as inspiration for your very own! Remember, if you live outside Buncombe County, you can look up phone numbers and find out who represents you at

Hi, my name is ­­­­­­­­­­­­___________. I live in _______ County.

I’m calling to ask you to increase investments in the child care subsidy program so that more parent have access to affordable, high quality child care and learning settings.

IF APPLICABLE: My family relies on vouchers to provide affordable, safe, high quality care for my children while I work.

Without subsidy I would [fill in with what might happen if you didn’t have your voucher, for example: reduce work hours, place your child in a less desirable care arrangement, quit your job, stop paying other bills/or fill in with what has happened since you lost your voucher.]

Thank you for your consideration.

Contact Info for local elected leaders that need to hear from YOU!

District Name Party Counties Serving E-mail Office Phone
SD 49 Terry Van Duyn Dem Buncombe (919) 715-3001
SD 48 Tom Apodaca Rep Buncombe, Henderson, Transylvania (919) 733-5745
District Name Party Counties Serving E-mail Office Phone
HD 116 Brian Turner Dem Buncombe (919) 715-3012
HD 115 John Ager Dem Buncombe (919) 733-5746
HD 114 Susan Fisher Dem Buncombe (919) 715- 2013


This story is part of a series collected by The Success Equation. Under the umbrella of Children First/CIS, the Success Equation is an initiative that unites community to reduce and prevent the root causes of poverty so all children can thrive. Get involved! Learn about action steps, volunteer opportunities, and help share these messages by going to To find more, go to