Pender parents could lose childcare options after state cuts mil - WECT TV6-WECT.com:News, weather & sports Wilmington, NC

Pender parents could lose childcare options after state cuts millions in funding

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Soon some Pender County parents may no longer get state-funded childcare services, meaning they'll have to pay for it themselves, or quit their jobs to stay at home. Soon some Pender County parents may no longer get state-funded childcare services, meaning they'll have to pay for it themselves, or quit their jobs to stay at home.

PENDER COUNTY, NC (WECT) - Soon some Pender County parents may no longer get state-funded childcare services, meaning they'll have to pay for it themselves, or quit their jobs to stay at home.

The state budget, which was passed after the Pender County budget was approved, cut the subsidized childcare funding by $11 million. In order to continue running all programs the Director of DSS says around $400,000 would be needed. On August 29, Pender County's Department of Social Services mailed a letter explaining that state-funded childcare services could end on September 30th, if the funds are not replaced.  

The letter goes on to state that "due to the current state fiscal crisis, it is unlikely there will be any available funding. therefore, Pender County DSS is notifying you in advances so that you may be able to explore other options."  If funding is not found, a second letter will be sent September 14, explaining that state funding will end.

"I cried. I'm not going to lie; I cried...it's just, what else am I supposed to do?" said Jennifer Ezzell. The mother of three is finishing up a nursing program at the James Sprunt Community College this year.  Her husband is in the military, so childcare is necessary if she wants to finish school.

"He's at work all the time, so it's just me," said Ezzell. The funding cut will impact 45 counties across the state, including Pender, explained County Manager Mickey Duvall.

"Everybody's feeling the pain right now," he said.  Eighty-five families in Pender County will lose their state-funded childcare services if nothing is done, including families where a parent works part time, or where a parent is in school, like Jennifer.

'If nothing happens I will probably have to quit the nursing program and go back to being a stay at home mom," said Ezzell. She says she's done the math, and right now she only pays around $200 a month for childcare, but without help, she would have to pay more than $1,500 a month. Ezzell says nursing has been a life-long dream, but without childcare help, it can't become a reality.

"I can't do this there is no way that I can come to school - to get a career so we don't need assistance," said Ezzell.  

The Director of Pender County's Department of Social Services says that she will be asking Pender Commissioners permission to present the situation at the next meeting, to see if there is anything else that can be done.

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