DURHAM, N.C. (WNCN) – Nearly two years into the COVID-19 pandemic, access to childcare still plays a role in some parents’ ability to return to work.

John Quinterno, a public policy professor at Duke University, said according to the U.S. jobs report released Friday, approximately 418,000 people in the U.S. said they want to work, but aren’t looking for a job because of issues related to childcare.

“It’s still a significant issue in that we still have these disruptions that make it very hard for people to plan,” Quinterno said.

Childcare can also be expensive for many parents, including Andrew Adams.

“It’s very difficult – I was fortunate to figure it out,” Adams said.

Another parent, Nicole Post, said daycare for her 11-month-old is almost as much as her mortgage. Post said she has friends who switched to working weekends to be home with their children.

“It was really kind of hard to find a good place that we really liked, that had the right stars, the right quality rating, but was in our budget,” Post said.

According to the Economic Policy Institute, the average yearly cost of infant care in North Carolina is $9,480. That is more than the cost of the University of North Carolina’s in-state tuition.

Marsha Basloe, the President of the Child Care Services Association, said high childcare costs are nothing new.

She said childcare access still plays a partial role in some parents’ ability to work.

“It’s a combination, they can’t get them into childcare because some programs have had to close classrooms and because they’re truly not making the money that they need to be able to pay for childcare,” Basloe said. “It’s why we talk about early childhood learning as a public good. It’s why we’re really so hopeful they’ll be more federal dollars coming down to be able to pay for early childhood services.”

Basloe said the pandemic really brought childcare issues to the forefront by showing how important it was in allowing essential workers to go to work during the pandemic when the rest of the state was mostly shut down.