Child Care Availability

North Carolina is considered a “child care desert” when it comes to infant toddler care, with a statewide average of more than 5 families with babies competing for every available licensed child care space. While finding quality care and learning opportunities for infants and toddlers is a struggle for all families, this shortage creates a crisis for families who desperately need child care care in order to maintain employment and financially support their families. Working families rely on child care when they return to work, often within days or weeks of giving birth, because they lack family support or other options for caring for their babies.

North Carolina needs a state-level solution to address the acute shortage of quality infant toddler care which exists in almost every county in the state. The child care market alone cannot solve the shortage. Parent fees and child care subsidy rates are not sufficient for child care programs to expand to meet the demand for quality infant toddler care.

Key Things to Know:
  • Only 18.7% of the infant-toddler population can be served in the existing supply of licensed infant-toddler programs.
  • 62% of parents of infants and toddlers are working.
  • Extreme shortages exist across the state: 10 counties have 10 or more babies for every licensed child care space.
  • High-quality care is even more scarce, especially in rural areas: 30 counties have 5 or fewer 4- and 5-star programs serving infants and toddlers.

Read the Fact Sheet

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Download Your County Child Care Profile (age 0-3)

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Download Your County Child Care Profile (age 0-5)

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