CHARLOTTE (FOX 46 CHARLOTTE) — A big step in helping people get back to work.

North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper made a stop in Charlotte on Thursday to encourage daycares and preschools to apply for new grants that are available.

Around $800 million of grant money is available to daycares and childcare centers in North Carolina. People in the industry said, it’s an important step but emphasized that the challenges in the childcare industry can’t be solved by a one-time grant.

“This is historic. It means everything. We’re going to use those grant funds to put that money directly in the pockets of teachers,” said Rhonda Rivers, the Regional Director of Curriculum and Training at LeafSpring.

Rhonda said, they’ve applied for the grant money and plan on using it to pay teachers more. “Our teachers put their lives on the line to work with these sweet little people but they cannot be vaccinated.”

Cooper said daycare places and childcare centers should apply for the grants now.

“I value education and in particular, early childhood education and we need to invest more there so we can attract the quality teachers and keep the quality teachers,” said Cooper.

The money can be used for a variety of things, including teacher pay, bonuses, classroom supplies, and even rent. Cooper said the money is there to help hire new teachers and keep the existing ones.

“It is hard work and you’ve got to have a passion for it and you’ve got to pay people more,” said Cooper.

As for Rhonda, even though she was out of the classroom for a bit, she’s always a teacher, and this time her students were the politicians that stopped by.

“We can only get there together,” said Rhonda.

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