COLUMBUS — Governor Mike DeWine last week announced an additional $650 million in grants to help child care programs defray unexpected business costs associated with the pandemic and to help stabilize operations. This is in addition to the $150 million in child care grants announced in December.
“Reliable, quality child care and early childhood education is essential for parents and caregivers who work and support their families,” said Governor DeWine. “Child care providers are balancing employee shortages, changing demands, and increasing costs. These grants will help bring providers relief so that they can continue serving families.”
Governor DeWine made the announcement during a visit to the Columbus Early Learning Center (CELC) in Columbus at the Champion Avenue location.
Dr. Gina M. Ginn, the director of CELC who oversees five Columbus-area centers, said the grants will make a huge difference.
“Immediately, these stabilization grants turn problems into solutions for so many issues – our staffing, our capacity, affordability for our families, and learning enrichment,” she said. “And the fact that this could also positively affect the long-term health of our industry is a huge benefit.”
The grants cover the following areas:
Operating/New Pandemic Costs: These funds are intended to provide assistance with costs incurred after the declaration of the federal public health emergency. Funds from this subgrant can be used for conducting facility maintenance and renovations, including those that address COVID-19 concerns such as purchasing sanitizer, classroom dividers, cleaning supplies, temporary sinks, and thermometers; improvements that make child care programs inclusive and accessible for children and families with disabilities; and paying personnel costs including wages or benefits such as health, dental, vision, paid sick leave or family leave, and retirement contributions.
Workforce Recruitment/Retention: These funds are for personnel costs such as wages, benefits, retirement contributions, sign-on and retention bonuses, ongoing premium or hazard pay; background checks; training and coaching; and creating substitute pools.
Access Development: These subgrants provide funds for expanding the number of current classrooms or reopening classrooms closed due to the pandemic to serve additional children or serve new age groups including care for infants, toddlers, children with special needs and care during non -traditional hours; increasing new equipment for learning and development, addressing learning gaps and social/emotional needs of school-age children; and supporting the inclusion of the therapeutic child care pilot.
Mental Health Workforce and Family Support: These funds are to support costs related to the mental health and well-being of their children and employees. This includes funds for coaching, training, local team building, resiliency, stress reduction, and developing staff in mental health and social-emotional development topics; organizing stress reduction and wellness experiences for children; addressing staffing patterns and schedules to support staff mental health; providing childhood mental health supports; and funding for program costs associated with participation in the Mental Health Bridge Pilot.
“Working families have faced innumerable obstacles during the pandemic, so it’s important to remove any barriers we can in their return to normalcy,” said Matt Damschroder, Director of the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services. “With a total of $800 million, child care programs will now have access to resources to staff up properly and ensure there are no gaps when it comes to enriching and educating Ohio’s children.”
These grants are available for ODJFS-regulated child care centers, family child care (FCC) type A and type B homes, in-home aides (IHA), and approved day camps, as well as Ohio Department of Education (ODE) licensed preschool (PS) and school-age (SA) programs that are approved to provide publicly funded child care (PFCC). ODJFS-regulated child care programs do not need to be participating in PFCC to be eligible to apply for these sub-grants; however, ODE programs must be approved to provide PFCC at the time of application. Ten percent of the funds will be used to develop efforts in support of services for child care programs and the children receiving care.
Guidance and requirements are available on OCCRRA’s website, at www.occrra.org.