From Overload to Opportunity: Prioritizing Support for North Carolina Families

By Dr. Melissa Clepper-Faith, Prevent Child Abuse NC Policy Director

Today’s parents and caregivers are overloaded; stressed by increasing costs for food, rent, and fuel, by covering student loan and health insurance payments, all with wages that are not increasing proportionately. Just as a truck can only bear so much weight before it breaks down, economic stress can overload and weigh down parents and caregivers, damaging their mental and physical health and well-being from being overburdened without support, and making it hard to best meet the needs of their children. 

Basic economic needs like food, shelter, clothing, and health care are essential for families to provide an adequate environment for their children’s healthy development but are increasingly hard to obtain for many working families. Parents and caregivers are doing their best, but when they are overloaded with stress, it’s hard to cope with the challenges of parenting; it is even harder to give children the support they need for healthy, positive childhoods when everything seems to be going against them and they feel like it’s them against the world. 

To build a healthy future for North Carolina, we must invest in strengthening all families by creating communities, systems and environments that truly support them. Supportive policies and programs can build the family support ecosystem necessary for North Carolina families to thrive and for our state’s children to grow up with positive experiences and hope for the future. 

North Carolina families need policies and programs such as: 

  • Affordable, available, high-quality childcare: when pandemic-era federal subsidies for childcare go away in October 2024, childcare providers in North Carolina are going to lose hundreds of millions of dollars per year in public support, which will impact countless working parents. 26% of NC parents with children five years old and under said they left the workforce because they couldn’t find affordable childcare. 
  • Concrete economic support for families, including expanded child tax credit, earned income tax credit, paid family and medical leave, housing aid, health care subsidies, and diaper and food banks; economic support has been shown to help lift children out of poverty and decrease the risk of child abuse and neglect. 
  • Family-friendly workplace policies, including paid family and medical leave, a living minimum wage, and flexible work schedules help caregivers maintain their employment and fulfill their family responsibilities. 
  • Evidence-based home visiting and parenting education programs give parents and caregivers the tools and support to improve their parenting skills and gain knowledge for the important work of raising healthy, strong, resilient children. 

At Prevent Child Abuse North Carolina, we work alongside our partners and communities to challenge the status quo for how we support children and families – leading to more positive childhoods. We do this by helping prevention professionals and advocates support families in their own communities; building a better understanding about what families need for children to be happy, healthy and successful; and advocating for policies that prioritize all children and families – especially those who have been left behind.  

You are an integral part of this work; your vote is essential and can make the difference in bringing effective policies, programs and strategies that support all families and communities to each of North Carolina’s 100 counties. Ask your local and state candidates where they stand on supporting North Carolina families. Here’s a link to early voting and voting registration.
 

 

 

NC Budget & Tax Center 

PowerPoint Presentation (ncleg.gov) 

https://ncchamber.com/2023/05/10/nc-chamber-foundation-child-care 

NC Budget & Tax Center 

PN3PIC_2023Roadmap_PaidFamilyLeaveAcrossStates.pdf (pn3policy.org) 

Family Forward NC | Business Smart. Family Friendly. Future Ready. 

2023_Putting-the-Pieces-Together-for-Families-with-Young-Children.pdf (clasp.org) 

A Key Connection: Economic Stability and Family Well-being – Chapin Hall 

https://www.preventchildabusenc.org/resource-hub/protective-factors/ 

50-State Progress Report 2023 – Alliance for Early Success