Additional federal child care funding to help centers, essential workers

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LITTLE Rock, Ark. — The federal government is giving more than $40M to Arkansas childcare providers; and essential workers.

Arkansas DHS announced the block grant funds are coming from the federal cares act. 

The additional payments to providers are designed to keep their doors open during the pandemic. 

The money will also be used to help offset the cost of sanitizers and masks for employees, but the biggest part of the announcement today; involves essential workers. 

For the first time, they will be eligible for assistance; regardless of income. 

“That is unprecedented for our staff. everything that we’ve do here is primarily involved with an income-based for children, so this will be for essential workers. We’re using a federal definition, those who are healthcare professionals, involved in the food supply chain, childcare,” said Tonya Williams.

HERE you can find an application for assistance.

 Here is the full news release from the Arkansas Department of Human Services:

“Funding is now available to help licensed child care centers cover costs associated with the COVID-19 outbreak and to cover child care costs for some essential workers in Arkansas, a group of State Legislators and the Arkansas Department of Human Services (DHS) announced Friday. 

“Safe and high-quality child care is critically important to families trying to get back to work and to our economy as a whole,” said DHS Deputy Director for Children and Families Keesa Smith. “This funding will help address the safety and economic issues for child care that have arisen as a result of this pandemic, and the enhanced safety procedures will help assure parents that we at DHS are committed to protecting children.”

The DHS Division of Child Care and Early Childhood Education (DCCECE) issued additional pandemic procedures to licensed child care providers today aimed at stopping the spread.

The guidance follows Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Arkansas Department of Health recommendations and requires screening for all individuals (staff, children, and families) entering a facility and prior to transporting; limiting group size to 10 or less, including staff and children; requiring staff to wear masks; serving individual rather than family-style meals, and more frequent handwashing and sanitation.  

These precautions are in addition to regular licensing requirements related to infectious disease. 
DCCECE also outlined how federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act funding of over $41 million in Child Care Development Block Grant funds will be used to:

  • Support licensed providers so they can remain open or re-open as appropriate through continued supplemental voucher payments through August, to coincide with school start dates. — Estimated $15 million
    • Child care providers will get an additional $10 per infant/toddler, $7 per preschool, and $5 school-age/out of school time care for children receiving federal child care assistance.
    • One-time supplemental maintenance payment for licensed providers open March 13 and that have remained open through May
    • Funding is based on licensed capacity and quality-level programs.
    • Providers do not need to take any action. DHS will process and send payments for all providers open during this time. Re-opening providers should contact their licensing specialist.
  • Help licensed child care providers cover costs of cleaning and sanitizing facilities to ensure safety and meet required pandemic protocols. – Estimated $8 millio
    • Reimbursement for actual costs of deep cleaning and sanitization after programs are advised by the Arkansas Department of Health that they must close
    • One-time payment for so centers can meet new pandemic procedures for safe operations including social distancing requirements in the building and while offering transportation, masks for staff, and screening processes.
    • Funding is based on licensed capacity and quality level-programs and will be available for licensed providers who remain open or re-open between May 4 and August 31, 2020
    • Providers should contact their licensing specialists to make this request.
  • Provide short-term child care assistance to essential workers. Federal requirements made it clear that essential workers should be able to access this support regardless of income (as funds allow). The funds would be payments to a qualified child care provider that accepts vouchers – not to the workers themselves. – Estimated $18 million
    • Essential personnel, under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, includes but is not limited to emergency responders, health care providers, public health personnel, manufacturing workers, sanitation workers, child care and early childhood staff, and individuals involved in the food supply chain during a pandemic.
    • The vouchers will be paid during the public health emergency. Payments would cover the full cost of child care during that time as funding allows.
    • Applications will be processed and approved in the order received and assistance will be provided on a first-come, first-serve basis. 
    • A simplified application can be found here. Completed applications should be sent to FamilySupport@dhs.arkansas.gov. 

      “Child care and early childhood programs in Arkansas are committed to doing everything they can to support families and keep children safe as evidenced by their willingness to remain open during this difficult time,” said DCCECE Director Tonya Williams. “DHS is excited to support those efforts and to ensure funding is available for those essential workers who need it.”

      DCCECE licenses about 2,000 child care centers in Arkansas. Of those, more than half have remained open during the public health emergency.”

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