Child care adds complications for families struggling through pandemic

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RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – Families and individuals continue to struggle through the pandemic. The United Way’s Self-Sufficiency Standard for North Carolina 2020 shows many people were having a hard time making ends meet before the pandemic.

President and CEO of The United Way of North Carolina, Laura Marx said a healthcare technician had reached out to them saying her schedule had been dropped down to just two days a week because of the pandemic. However, now the employer has given her an ultimatum.

“To either work full time or be let go. Of course, she’d prefer to work full time but now her daughter’s going to school from home and needs a structured environment to make home school work,” Marx said.

It’s a tough choice for many families already struggling but to make ends meet. With the complications of COVID-19, it’s an increasing issue.

“Child care access and school closures have impacted critical services serving children and forced parents to make a very difficult decision that is going to have a long term lasting economic impact,” said Marx.

The self-sufficiency report from The United Way shows on-average child care takes up a third of a family’s budget. The report said its common for child care and housing to make up 50 percent of household budgets.

“Often, you think you’re crazy that you can’t meet your own basic needs and you’re not,”

Michelle Gethers-Clark, President & CEO, United Way of Greater Greensboro.

In order to pay bills, put food on the table, and cover child care, the report said a household with one adult and one preschooler needs to make more than $54,000 a year in Wake County. In Durham County, that household would need to make $50,722. That same family would need an income of $42,349 in Cumberland County.

Those minimum income requirements would not cover extra like hair cuts or unexpected car maintenance.

Click here to calculate what your annual income needs are based on your household size and location.

“When that food bill and child care bill comes in, that housing bill comes in, they cannot make ends meet,” Gethers-Clark said.

Source: The United Way

Incomes not keeping up with needs

The United Way said the struggle boils down to wages being offered. In Wake County, none of the state’s top 10 jobs pay enough to support a single parent with two children.

The United Way said in their report, more than “more than three full-time jobs in Wake County to yield enough income to meet the family’s basic needs.

“For many, COVID-19 has become that one universal emergency. Job interruptions, income losses, neighbors are hard-pressed during these past months,” said Marx.

Increasing costs

Source: The United Way

In creating the report, the United Way tracked how these costs of living had changed since 1996. Wake, Durham, Orange, and Harnett Counties in the Triangle saw some of the largest changes increase. Mecklenburg County had the biggest change.

Their map shows Rowan County had the smallest change in the.

The United Way said the combination of rising costs of living, stagnant wages, and the pandemic is leading to more calls for help. Since January, more than 88,000 calls were made.

The top five needs were:

  1. Housing assistance
  2. Temporary financial assistance
  3. Food services
  4. Health
  5. Utility assistance

Read the entire Self-Sufficiency Standard report below.

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