Child Care, A Vital Component In Keeping A Community Strong

WAYNE – As many families still have trouble accessing affording child care, officials with the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) recently unveiled the Child Care Stabilization Grant.

 

Main website: coronavirus.nebraska.gov

Contact Center: 1-833-500-8810

WAED office: 402-375-2240

 

Established by Section 2202 of the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) this grant was signed into law on March 11, 2021. The child care industry will be provided approximately $24 billion in relief funds with approximately $140 million being allocated to the state of Nebraska.

Luke Virgil, Executive Director of Wayne Area Economic Development said the biggest stipulation is you have to be a licensed child care provider and licensed prior to March 11, 2021.

 

“But it’s another way to help keep the existing child care providers that we have afloat,” said Virgil. “Or to help them expand if they can.”

Eligible child care providers can range from in-home to commercial.

The application is now open and will close on November 24.

Virgil stated in a previous ‘Special Hot Topic’ email that even prior to the pandemic, research had shown childcare is vital to community growth and sustainability, as investments in education for children ages 0-5 have the highest return on investment (ROI) when compared to any other age bracket.

Virgil added even though the nation has moved into a new phase of the pandemic, the availability of child care has not rebounded to pre-pandemic levels and is contributing to the labor shortage throughout the state and across the country. Child care providers go through a lot of continuing education and changing regulations.

 

“These are professionals,” Virgil added. “A lot of times these folks only get anywhere between $10 – $15 an hour if they’re lucky, they probably don’t get benefits, they probably don’t get the same paid time off that a lot of other professionals get. We need to start treating them like professionals because of the very intense and very impactful work that they’re doing every day with our children.”

DHHS is in collaboration with Deloitte Consulting, LLP and has developed a user-friendly, online Stabilization Grant application that launched on October 25, 2021.

Child care providers now have access to a toll-free contact center where questions about the application can be addressed. The call center will assist in multiple languages. Deloitte, in partnership with the Nebraska Department of Administrative Services (DAS), will help with the processing of provider payments, which will occur in two installments. Those interested in applying for grants can visit coronavirus.nebraska.gov, questions regarding the application process can be directed to the hotline at 1-833-500-8810.

DHHS understands these grants present an unprecedented opportunity to stabilize the child care sector and ensure families have equal access to high quality care. The Department has created a grant funding formula based on a variety of factors with a true focus on supporting those in underserved and lower-income areas of the state. Child care providers will have the opportunity to apply for these grant funds in a variety of categories including:

  • Personnel costs, benefits, premium pay, and recruitment and retention;
  • Rent or mortgage payments, utilities, facilities maintenance and improvements, or insurance;
  • Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), cleaning and sanitation supplies and services, or training and professional development related to health and safety practices;
  • Purchases of or updates to equipment and supplies needed to respond to COVID-19;
  • Goods and services necessary to maintain or resume child care services including food costs, toys and outdoor playgrounds;
  • Mental health supports for children and employees;
  • Co-payment and tuition relief for families struggling to make child care payments, to the extent possible; and,
  • Paying for past financial losses incurred between March 13, 2020, and March 11, 2021.

 

“So, like I said a wide variety of things,” Virgil mentioned. “Just about anything and everything you can think of with operations, maintenance or expansion of your child care facility or business (if you want to qualify it as a business) you should be looking at getting this grant.”

Children and Family Services (CFS) Director Stephanie Beasley stated, “Child care providers have been and continue to be the workforce behind the workforce throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. The resulting challenges have put a spotlight on the critical role that providers play in support of Nebraska’s economy. Through the facilitation of stabilization grants, we are continuing in our mission to help Nebraskans live better lives.”

A guidance document has been provided for applicants with additional questions: https://coronavirus.nebraska.gov/assets/ChildCareStabilizationFAQs.pdf.

Visit dhhs.ne.gov for more information.

Complete View interview with Luke Virgil.

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