DURHAM, N.C. — After nearly 30 years of working with children, Darnella Warthen still loves going to work.
What You Need To Know
The state reimburses certain child care centers every year
The new state budget increases that base rate
The money is meant to help with salary raises
Warthen owns four child care centers in Durham, all part of her A New Beginning business.
“This brings me happiness, seeing the children grow. Seeing them develop. Seeing them learn. Create opportunities for them to grow and learn,” Warthen said.
The past two years, however, have presented a number of challenges that still aren’t over for Warthen and other child care centers.
“That first year was horrific, because Durham Public Schools was closed, and so instead the children, the younger children, they couldn’t stay home so they came here,” Warthen said. “I had a rainy day savings, but the rainy day was here, and I didn’t know long the rainy day was going to last, considering we thought this was going to be couple months. This ended up being two years. So you know I could have easily exhausted all of my savings had I not had that other support.”
They’ve survived, and are still bringing kids in every day to learn and grow.
Thanks to the newly signed state budget, Warthen and other centers will have a little less to worry about.
Every year, certain child care centers get reimbursed from the state for the work they do.
On Monday Gov. Roy Cooper signed the state budget adjustment that would raise the base reimbursement rate by 7%, rather than the originally planned 2%.
“It’ll probably be the difference between some businesses, whether they stay open or not. We’re all still navigating this space and don’t truly know where it’s going to end at,” Warthen said.
She says she’s proud that she never skipped a paycheck to her employees, but at times it was hard.
They’re still struggling with costs due to inflation. Food, gas for transportation and even basic supplies are more costly. Warthen says the box of trash bags they use are $9 more expensive now.
This increase in the reimbursement percentage is going to help her raise her salaries and cover those costs so they can continue providing care and education to the kids.
“I could just break down and cry. It is such a burden off of my shoulders,” Warthen said. “I’ve really taken to heart what I do and the people I employ, and I want them to be able to know that their employment is secure. That they’re going to be able to take care of their families, and I’m going to be able to continue to do what I do, so I’m so grateful. I’m so thankful.”