This week our state legislators will gather in Raleigh to kick off the 2023-2024 “long” legislative session. As a non-partisan public policy organization, we work diligently each year to present the legislature with evidence-based, community-informed policy proposals that kids and families need to thrive.
Our focus for the 2023-24 legislative session is on four policy priorities that build family economic security, and safeguard youth mental health.
Ensuring health coverage for parents and caregivers
At least 1/4 of the adults in North Carolina’s “coverage gap” are parents with children in the home, with no affordable health coverage option.
Recommendation: Close the coverage gap by accepting federal funds to expand the NC Medicaid program.
Early education opportunity for children and child care choices for working parents
North Carolina has one of the highest rates of working parents with young children. Yet 44% of the state’s families live in a child care desert, where there are five children in need of care for each available slot. Improving child care subsidy reimbursement rates can ensure that more children have access to early childhood education that put them on track for school success. Child care is an essential service for thousands of children and families, and it is particularly crucial as we grapple with a labor shortage in many industries.
Recommendation: Improving the child care subsidy rate structure will make it possible for more child care businesses to provide services to low-income families in their communities.
Prevent youth suicide and address the children’s mental health crisis
Suicide is the leading cause of death for youth ages 10-14 in North Carolina. It is crucial that trained professionals can support our children when they are in crisis.
Recommendation: North Carolina can meet children where they are by ensuring that students have access to mental health professionals at school.
Fighting hunger and promoting success in school
In North Carolina, 1 in 6 children go hungry. Providing no-cost school meals can help. No-cost school meals are an investment in academic performance, since kids who eat healthy school meals do better in school.
Recommendation: Ensure that every child has access to free nutritious meals at school.
Collaboration across the state
NC Child will also be collaborating with partners to support several other policy items in early childhood education and preventing child deaths. We look forward to working closely with you, and with child-serving organizations across the state, to speak up for our kids and their families this session.
Are you part of our Child Advocacy Network? Make sure you receive our weekly Legislative Updates during the session – sign up here.
Public policy is such an important tool that can make our children’s lives measurably better. Thank you for all that you do to ensure that every child in North Carolina has the opportunity to thrive, whatever their race, ethnicity, or place of birth.