Virginia stepping up assistance for child-care providers impacted by COVID-19 response
Forty-five percent of the child-care programs in business in Virginia at the start of 2020 closed their doors at the beginning of the stay-at-home period in mid-March.
In raw numbers, we’re talking 2,672 child-care programs, who had been providing services to untold thousands of Virginia families.
Many are reopening, with assistance from the state and the CARES Act.
The state announced this week $65.8 million in new funding for child care, continuing the incentive grant program for child care providers announced in April that 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.
“Our ongoing COVID-19 response and recovery depends upon having a child care system that is both accessible and operational,” Gov. Ralph Northam said. “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.”
“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 Daniel Carey, MD, MHCM. “Serving working families remains a top priority and we will continue to do all we can to support them.”
Child care programs have also stepped up to serve children who are participating in virtual learning, ensuring that they have safe, supervised spaces with access to food, supplies, and internet. At least half of open child care programs have reported serving school-age children, and this new funding will also help communities establish public-private partnerships to meet the needs of working families with school-age children.
“Access to child care, especially from birth to age 12, is key to our economic recovery, financial stability for families, and helping Virginia’s children succeed in school,” said Virginia Department of Social Services Commissioner S. Duke Storen. “This additional funding provides a critical financial lifeline to the many working parents who depend on child care programs.”
Distribution of these funds will be announced by the Virginia Department of Social Services in the 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.