Axios Raleigh

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April 02, 2024

πŸ‘‹ Greetings. It's Tuesday.

🌀️ Weather: Partly sunny with a high near 87°.

🎈 Happy birthday to our Axios Raleigh member John Legge!

Today's Smart Brevityℒ️ count is 888 words β€” a 3-minute read.

1 big thing: A worrying child care forecast

"The industry is in crisis," Pathway Preschool Center director Emma Biggs, who has been in early childhood education for nearly three decades, told Axios Charlotte last April. Photo: Courtesy of Pathway Preschool Center

Almost three in 10 (29%) child care centers throughout North Carolina say they'd be forced to close if state lawmakers don't step in with financial support when pandemic-era grants expire this summer, Axios' Katie Peralta Soloff writes.

Why it matters: That many closures would mean a loss of care for some 91,660 children in the state. This would have ripple effects on the broader economy, experts say.

Driving the news: That's according to a recent survey from the North Carolina Child Care Resource and Referral Council (CCR&R), which recently polled 1,529 child care programs statewide.

  • Most providers surveyed say they'd have to raise tuition to stay afloat without government support.

Between the lines: Pandemic-era stabilization grants had covered two areas: operational costs and pay. The ones covering operational costs ended last April. The ones covering pay are set to expire on June 30.

The big picture: For years, the child care industry struggled with rising rents, low pay and demand far exceeding supply. Then came the pandemic, exacerbating these problems as teachers left the field.

  • Centers have had to compete for talent with various industries β€” from call centers to big-box retailers to fast-food chains β€” which have raised pay in recent years.

By the numbers: Since February 2020, North Carolina has lost 203 licensed child care programs, EdNC recently reported.

What's next: The North Carolina General Assembly is about to enter into a short session on April 24. Child care professionals are asking for a one-time allocation of $300 million to extend stabilization grants beyond June.

Full story

2. Abuse allegations inside N.C.'s psychiatric facilities for kids

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

North Carolina has two dozen psychiatric residential treatment facilities where children with severe mood or behavior disorders can be admitted for treatment.

  • But the facilities, sometimes hundreds of miles from a child's home, can fall short of treating these children and returning them home on a path to healing, a WUNC investigation found.

Why it matters: Families and guardians often turn to these facilities as a last resort, such as after a suicide attempt or manic episode.

  • Advocates and experts say the current system can leave children isolated and further traumatized.

Driving the news: A WUNC review of more than 500 psychiatric residential treatment facility inspection reports since 2018 found dozens of accusations of staff hitting, kicking or punching children.

What they're saying: Jason deBruyn, the WUNC reporter who investigated the facilities, says groups like Disability Rights North Carolina have been calling for changes to the system for years β€” especially the practice of sending kids to out-of-state facilities.

  • "It occurred to me that it's almost hard to imagine a more disenfranchised person than a child in the foster care system that is placed in a PRTF out of state," deBruyn told Axios in an email.
  • "With that in mind, I wanted to inspect these facilities as much as I could, with the hope that bringing some of the conditions to light will spur positive change for the mental health needs of our state's most vulnerable people," he said.

Go deeper with part 1 of WUNC's series

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3. The Tea: Slowdown for Project Kitty Hawk

Illustration: Maura Losch/Axios

πŸ›œ The UNC system is trying to launch an online education program that would rival the many for-profit online management schools that run online degree programs at hundreds of colleges.

  • But the $97 million Project Kitty Hawk has hit some headwinds. (The Assembly πŸ”’)

🎀 Rapper 50 Cent will replace singer Chris Brown in the Dreamville Festival lineup. (WRAL)

πŸ–₯️ WeWork will keep its current location in downtown Durham but is shrinking its footprint. (Triangle Business Journal πŸ”’)

βš–οΈ A provision passed in the North Carolina Farm Act and a ruling from the U.S. Supreme Court could open up millions of acres of wetlands in the state for development. (News & Observer πŸ”’)

πŸ€ N.C. State fans have been leaving behind gifts and flowers at the gravesite of Jim Valvano, who coached the school to a 1983 championship. (Brendan Marks on X)

4. Triangle Topgolf opens this month

Photo: Gonzalo Marroquin/Getty Images for COLTURE

The Triangle's long-awaited Topgolf will open on Friday, April 12, the company said in a release.

Why it matters: The popular entertainment destination's Durham location has been years in the making.

Flashback: Construction began at 4901 Page Road in 2021, but completion was delayed.

Background: Dallas-based Topgolf is known for creating an entertaining driving range experience with simulators plus food and drinks.

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5. Our April concert picks

Hozier performs live on stage during Lollapalooza Brazil. Photo: Mauricio Santana/Getty Images

☁️ April 6-7: J. Cole's hip-hop festival Dreamville takes over Raleigh's Dix Park for two days.

🎹 April 9: Alt-rock band AJR makes a stop at PNC Arena.

🀠 April 11: Country singer Clint Black plays the DPAC.

🎀 April 16: Singer Benson Boone, whose song "Beautiful Things" is surging on the charts, stops at The Ritz.

🎸 April 20: Wasn't he just here? Irish singer Hozier plays Coastal Credit Union Music Park.

🀠 April 21: Alt-country rockers Cowboy Junkies play at Haw River Ballroom.

🎹 April 22: Asheville-based musician Helado Negro brings his tour to Cat's Cradle.

🎸 April 25: 1990s alt-rockers Teenage Fanclub take on the Haw River Ballroom.

πŸ™ April 26: Rock group Needtobreathe plays Coastal Credit Union Music Park.

🎀 April 27: Millennial icons The Postal Service and Death Cab for Cutie play at the Coastal Credit Union Music Park.

🎸 April 27: English indie rockers Black Country, New Road perform at Cat's Cradle.

😷 By the numbers: Raleigh had a record pollen count of 5,219 on Monday, breaking a record from April 2010, according to meteorologist Brad Panovich

  • 🐝 Zachery's white car has turned completely yellow from the pollening.

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This newsletter was edited by Jen Ashley and Katie Peralta Soloff and copy edited by Lucia Maher.