The City of Harrisonburg, the Shenandoah Valley Small Business Development Center and Early Education Business Consultants are now offering an opportunity for local childcare providers and aspiring childcare providers to receive special training and personalized assistance through the city’s American Rescue Plan Act program.
The goal of the effort is to provide participants with the tools and support they need to start, grow and succeed as a childcare provider.
The program is a priority for Harrisonburg City Council members, who heard frequently from community members during its six-month ARPA community engagement process that childcare support was one of the biggest struggles for many families during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Harrisonburg City Council voted in December 2022 to set aside $596,000 from federal ARPA funds to be used toward supporting childcare programs in the community.
“We know that many in our community struggled with childcare during the pandemic, as did the providers who are so important to families in Harrisonburg,” said Harrisonburg Mayor Deanna Reed. “I am grateful that we have the opportunity to help childcare providers grow and flourish, which in turn will help make sure anyone in our community who needs these services will be able to find options that work for their family.”
Participants who complete the program and can demonstrate they have increased childcare spaces in their home or center may be eligible for ARPA grant funding from the city.
A free information session will be held Monday, Oct. 9, at 6:30 p.m. at the Lucy F. Simms Continuing Education Center at 620 Simms Ave. where Harrisonburg-based childcare providers and those wishing to become a childcare provider will be able to learn more about free support and potential funding for their services.
An additional information session will be held Wednesday, Oct. 25, at 6:30 p.m. at Harrisonburg City Hall, at 409 S. Main St., for those who cannot attend the first event.
Participants are encouraged to register in advance at https://tinyurl.com/bp6yhpsm.
ARPA fund priorities
Childcare support efforts are part of a group of 21 projects Harrisonburg City Council is funding through ARPA. The city received $23.8 million from the federal program focused on helping states and localities recover from the pandemic and maintain vital public services.
Following a robust community engagement effort that heard from thousands in Harrisonburg about their needs, Harrisonburg City Council identified six focus areas – one of which is the need to increase affordable, accessible childcare in the community.
More information on the program is available at https://www.valleysbdc.org/pathway-to-success-childcare-business/
More information on the ARPA program and other funded projects can be found at https://harrisonburgva.gov/ARPA.