Federal funds available for childcare centers, providers

Published: Jul. 15, 2020 at 7:10 PM CDT
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HASTINGS, Neb. (KSNB) - Daycare facilities impacted by the pandemic now have another avenue to get financial help.

Each phase of the Directed Health Measure comes with certain restrictions childcare centers have to follow, causing some to temporarily close and others to remain open with limited space.

The Hastings Family YMCA has kept its childcare programs up and running the duration of the pandemic.

“From March 19 through June 1 we had about 20, 25 kids on average,” said Troy Stickels, CEO of the Hastings YMCA. “Most of those were kids of people who were essential workers who had to go to work.”

After June 1, the Y transitioned from its After School Enrichment Program to its summer day camp.

Following Phase 3 of the DHM, the Y can now have 30 school-aged kids per room, 25 kids ages four to five per room, 20 kids age three per room and 15 kids infant to three years old per room.

Staying open the past few months has created extra costs for the Y.

“It’s been expensive. We had to have a lot more staff. A lot more cleaning. We lost memberships because of being closed,” Stickels said.

That’s where some federal dollars can help.

Through the CARES Act, the Department of Health and Human Services partnered with the Nebraska Children and Families Foundation to award grants to childcare centers and providers.

Nebraska received $20 million in CARES Act funding for its share of the Child Care and Development Fund. Part of that money is being allocated to a Child Care Provider Stabilization Fund and part to an Incentive to Reopen Child Care Programs Fund.

The stabilization fund is for licensed childcare providers who have remained open during the pandemic.

According to a press release from DHHS, family childcare homes will be eligible for a one-time award of $3,500. Childcare centers will be eligible for a one-time award of $5,550.

This could benefit places like the YMCA.

“All those resources have been a blessing, and we’ve tried to take advantage of all of them that we can,” Stickels said.

The incentive fund is for licensed childcare providers who had to close during the pandemic.

The press release states family childcare homes will be eligible for a one-time grant of $2,000, and childcare centers will be eligible for a one-time grant of $3,000.

Nicole Vint, an administrator with the Department of Health and Human Services, said the grants are meant to help cover expenses like rent, mortgages, salaries and purchasing additional cleaning supplies.

“We’re hoping to see childcare (centers) remain open, and continue to help the families that need childcare due to employment or educational purposes to provide a safe, quality environment for children,” Vint said.

State-wide, 16 percent of licensed childcare providers and centers temporarily closed at the start of the pandemic. Thirteen percent remain closed.

Vint said DHHS has received more than 1,000 applications so far and continue getting more every day.

The application deadline is September 30. You can find more information about the funds and where to apply on the Foundation’s website.

Copyright 2020 KSNB. All rights reserved.

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