*NOTE: The bill has passed been approved by the House and is currently being reviewed by the Senate.*
To provide urgently-needed financial support to the child care sector, the U.S. House Committee on Appropriations has recently passed the Child Care is Essential Act, which is providing a $50 billion Child Care Stabilization Fund to support the child care sector and enable providers to safely reopen and operate.
In this guide, we’ll go over the main takeaways from the legislation, including:
- What is the Child Care is Essential Act?
- What is the Child Care Stabilization Fund?
- What relief is your center eligible for?
If you’d like to access the full 30-page report, you can do so here; however, if you want to skip right to the main takeaways, keep reading!
What is the Child Care is Essential Act?
In order for parents to return to work and help stabilize the economy, families need a place for their children to go while parents are working. The COVID-19 pandemic has made it challenging (and in many cases impossible) for child care providers to continue operating. With already razor-thin margins in the best of times, being forced to close or operate with reduced capacity — while also requiring lower teacher/student ratios and new safety procedures — means that providers will likely not be able to survive as the pandemic continues with no end in sight soon.
To help providers get through the crisis, the House has passed the Child Care is Essential Act, which has created a $50 billion Child Care Stabilization Fund. This fund will help ensure that child care operators in need will get funding to help support them during these trying times.
What is the Child Care Stabilization Fund?
Within the already-established Child Care and Development Block Grant, a new $50 billion Child Care Stabilization Fund has been created, which will remain available until September 30, 2021.
What Does the Fund Cover?
Funding can be used to support the following operating costs:
- Personnel costs, including premium pay, employee benefits, and employee salaries.
- Sanitization and cleaning, personal protective equipment, and other necessary equipment.
- Training and professional development related to health and safety practices.
- Fixed costs, including mortgage obligations, rent, utilities, and insurance.
- Mental health supports for children and employees.
- Modifications to child care services as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
- Other goods and services necessary to maintain or resume operation of the child care program, or to maintain the viability of the child care provider.
It is ultimately up to your state’s lead agency to determine how much finding you will receive and will be based on a number of factors.
Funding will be based on your average operating expenses in the 6 months preceding March 1, 2020, and at minimum cover such operating expenses for the intended length of the subgrant.
Increased costs of providing (or preparing to provide) child care as a result of COVID-19 — such as employee benefits and compensation, sanitization, group size limits and social distancing — will also be factored in.
Funds will be adjusted for payments or reimbursements made to carry out the Child Care and Development Block Grant Act of 1990 or the Head Start Act, as well as the Paycheck Protection Program.
Are You Eligible for Funding?
Eligible Types of Child Care Providers
Grants are being provided to providers in the United States that are:
- Child care centers
- Home-based child care providers
- Family child care homes
Businesses of these types must also:
- Have been providing child care services on or before March 1, 2020.
- On the date of submission were either open and available to provide child care services, or closed due to COVID-19.
Priority will be given to businesses who prior to or on March 1, 2020, met any of the following:
- Provided child care during non-traditional hours.
- Served dual language learners, children with disabilities, homeless children, children in foster care, children from low-income families, or infants and toddlers.
- Served a high proportion of children whose families received subsidies under the Child Care and Development Block Grant of 1990.
- Operated in communities with a low supply of child care.
Providers are required to keep their staff on payroll and receiving the same compensation they were getting before COVID-19. If a provider wishes, funding can be used to provide premium pay to staff to reflect the additional requirements being asked of them during these times.
- Open centers: Must meet health and safety guidance from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, as well as state and local authorities.
- Closed centers: Will implement guidance from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, as well as state and local authorities, once they reopen.
Stabilization grant funds can be used to purchase equipment and make modifications necessary to meet the guidance listed above.
How to Apply
Funding is administered by each state’s lead agency. Each lead agency will make applications available on their website within 30 days after they have received grant funds. Check their website regularly or contact your local agency to see when they will be ready to accept applications so you can get funding as soon as possible!