Child care providers in Monroe County are set to receive $560,000 in CARES Act funding, part of a $51 million package meant to support almost 7,000 such facilities across the commonwealth.
The funding comes in the midst of Pennsylvania’s phased reopening, which as of Friday, May 22, will see 49 of the 67 commonwealth counties in the yellow phase. This phase loosens some of the restrictions of the red phase and allows for some non-life-sustaining businesses to reopen.
Parents and caregivers across the commonwealth have often expressed concerns about returning to work without a means to take care of their children in light of the pandemic, but the allocation of the CARES Act funds will help keep thousands of vital facilities open, Department of Human Services Secretary Teresa Miller said.
“Child care providers allow parents and guardians to go to work knowing their children are being cared for a in a safe, nurturing, and educational environment. Without their service, we cannot have a fully functional economy, and we are committed to helping them weather this tumultuous period,” Miller said. “This CARES Act funding allows us to support child care providers who are undoubtedly feeling the current strain on their businesses so they can continue to be a resource for families around Pennsylvania.”
Funding from the CARES Act can be used to address issues with occupancy, utilities, salaries, benefits, cleaning, sanitation, materials and supplies, according to the Provider Attestation Form that child care providers must submit to receive payments.
Governor Tom Wolf announced Wednesday that Pennsylvania had received $106 million in total funding to support child care centers through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, which will be distributed in two waves.
The initial distribution of $51 million will be distributed to all eligible, licensed child care providers to assist those providers in reopening their facilities as counties make the move from the red to the yellow phase.
Within that initial rollout, Monroe County is set to receive $560,000, whereas Carbon will receive $88,200, Lackawanna will receive $697,800, Lehigh will receive $1,876,500, Northampton will receive $1,098,400, Pike will receive $72,500, and Wayne will receive $227,000.
The funds will be distributed to eligible providers through regional Early Learning Resource Centers. The Office of Child Development and Early Learning determined eligibility for funding and award amounts based on the type and size of the providers, the number of active enrollments in Child Care Works subsidized child care, child care capacity, and licensure status.
According to a release from the governor, base payments were set by licensure types and capacity, with providers able to receive more funding for Child Care Works enrollments, and if the operate in a county determined to have at least moderate capacity problems, otherwise referred to as “child care deserts.”
School age only providers can receive between $2,700 and $16,900, family child care homes can receive between $1,700 and $4,300, and group child care homes can receive between $2,000 and $7,700.
Child care centers with a licensed capacity between eight and 38 children can receive from $2,300 to $12,800; centers with a capacity between 39 and 61 children can receive from $4,100 to $20,800; centers with a capacity between 62 and 92 children can receive from $6,500 to $36,700, centers with a capacity between 93 to 137 children can receive from $9,700 to $42,800; and centers with a capacity between 138 to 596 children can receive from $16,500 to $51,600.
The remainder of the funding will be allocated after the completion of a study by the Department of Human Resources Office of Child Development and Early Learning and Penn State Harrisburg’s Institute of State and Regional Affairs. The study will assess the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the state’s child care providers.
“Child care providers are the backbone of our economy in many ways,” Wolf said. “Without their work, children would miss out on an introduction to education that helps them throughout childhood, adolescence, and adulthood, and parents and guardians may have to stay home or not pursue education themselves. I cannot understate how valuable this work is to local communities and the commonwealth as a whole, and as Pennsylvania reopens, we need a robust and healthy child care system.”
The Office of Child Development and Early Learning continued to pay child care providers with Child Care Works, Pre-K Counts and Head Start State Supplemental Assistance Program enrollments throughout the closure period, with the agency noting that providers have had or will have increased costs associated with addition staffing, cleaning and sanitation at their facilities.
Many child care providers in red counties were permitted to continue operating during the COVID-19 pandemic in order to offer assistance to parents and caregivers in life-sustaining positions. Those interested in finding an open facility in a red county can visit the DHS website’s Child Care Centers page.