ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — A historic $1.1 billion dollars in grants is going to support child care providers in New York.
Governor Cuomo announced the funding last week, which will help with losses child care programs have incurred during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“They have lost staff, they have lost children, they have lost income, and many programs have closed because of that. They couldn’t stay open because no income was coming in,” said Hector Santiago, the Director of Administration and Business services with Child Care Council.
Santiago said this new money can be used to help child care providers pay for things like payroll, insurance, rent, and mortgages.
Expressive Beginnings is one local child care center that will benefit from the funding. Becky Meagher, the Director of Expressive Beginnings in Henrietta, said the grant will help their center in a number of ways.
“I think this grant is a wonderful opportunity for childcare centers. We have all been impacted by this pandemic in different ways, so this will really help all of us recover from the various ways that we have been affected,” Meagher said.
Meagher said the grant will specifically help Expressive Beginnings when there is a COVID case among staff or a child.
“When we have an exposure in a classroom, whether it be a child or a teacher, we typically have to close that classroom down for a week, and when we do that, we waive the tuition fees for the families, so these grants will help us cover some of that lost revenue when we have these classroom closures,” Meagher said.
When a classroom is closed, the center still pays the teachers of that classroom. Meagher said this federal funding will also help them with payroll costs. It will also assist them in providing PPE to staff members.
“As the pandemic continues, we are continuing to have our staff wear face masks and we provide those masks for them on a daily basis. We also have specific cleaning and sanitizing procedures, so these funds will also help us cover the previous and on-going costs of cleaning supplies and PPE, such as disposable masks,” Meagher said.
While some child centers have closed during the pandemic, others have stayed open and have helped serve families of essential workers. As more parents look to return to work, these centers will provide a vital service for kids.
“I think that childcare and the routine is good for children, their whole lives have been turned upside down and they are so young and they don’t really understand fully what’s going on around them, so coming into the childcare setting with their familiar teachers, their friends, that routine has been really helpful for them as they have navigated through the uncertainty of this pandemic,” Meagher said.
Santiago said the funding will also allow more parents and caregivers to go back to work, if they choose.
“It’s going to help the parents because there are going to be more child care programs open, not just daycare centers, but also in-home based programs that have the flexibility, depending on the parent’s preference, it’s going to keep many, many programs operating still.”
The grants are available through the American Rescue Plan Act and the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act.
Applications for the grants opened Wednesday, but many providers have already applied.
“As of today, like an hour ago, we have 365 applications submitted. For those, we have 360 approved. So the process is very simple, very quick. It’s just having the correct information,” Santiago said.
The Child Care Council will help any providers that need assistance applying for the grants.
You can call the council at (585) 654-4720, or email them at: firstname.lastname@example.org