Northam announces $65.8M to increase child care access
Funding will continue child care provider incentive grant program
Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam and first lady of Virginia Pamela Northam announced $65.8 million in new funding on Wednesday to increase access to child care and support child care providers amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
This new investment is supported by $58.3 million in Coronavirus Relief Fund dollars as well as a reallocation of $7.5 million in Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG) funding through the federal Coronavirus Aid, Recovery, and Economic Security (CARES) Act.
“Our ongoing COVID-19 response and recovery depends upon having a child care system that is both accessible and operational,” said Gov. Northam in a statement. “Early childhood educators have been on the frontlines since COVID-19 pandemic started, going above and beyond to keep their doors open, ensure children are safe, and even fill in the gaps with remote learning as schools have reopened. This new funding will help them continue to support working families and enable more programs to safely provide in-person child care.”
The incentive grant program for child care providers was announced in April; this funding will facilitate the program through the end of 2020. The program provides flexible cash assistance to child care providers to help offset operating costs and expenses associated with meeting health and safety guidelines. The Virginia Department of Social Services, in partnership with the Virginia Department of Education, has distributed more than $46 million in direct assistance to child care programs to date.
“Virginia’s early educators are truly superheroes, and thousands of our families rely on them every day,” said Pamela Northam. “After listening to providers across the commonwealth, it was clear that continuing this incentive grant program had to be our top priority. I am thrilled we were able to get it done, and I look forward to continuing to support early childhood education during this difficult time.”
At the onset of the pandemic, more than 2,600 child care programs closed their doors, but many have either reopened or are in the process of reopening because of more than $70 million in grants and other relief.
“Child care plays an essential role in providing high-quality, safe learning environments for Virginia’s children while ensuring their parents and caregivers are able to work,” said Secretary of Health and Human Resources Dr. Daniel Carey. “Serving working families remains a top priority and we will continue to do all we can to support them.”
Distribution of these funds will be announced by the Virginia Department of Social Services in coming weeks. A comprehensive guide to COVID-19 child care resources in Virginia is available here. Additional health and safety guidance for child care centers that remain open can be found here.
Parents who are in need of child care services should visit Child Care Aware at VAchildcare.org or call 1-866-KIDS-TLC for an up-to-date list of child care options in their area.