WEST CHESTER (October 6, 2021)  State Senator Carolyn Comitta reminded licensed child care providers to apply for $655 million in total pandemic relief to help cover expenses and stabilize this important industry.

The funds, being allocated by the Pennsylvania Department of Human Services (DHS) from the federal American Rescue Plan, are available to eligible child care providers with a license in good standing that have been open since March 11, 2021 – or, if temporarily closed, that plan to reopen by the end of September. 

“Our early learning centers provide vital educational and child care services to both young children and working parents and families across the Commonwealth,” Comitta said. “These funds offer crucial and flexible support as we continue to face an evolving pandemic and ever-changing circumstances. I encourage all eligible applicants to apply for funding.”

Comitta, who serves on the Senate Education Committee, also noted that child care providers and staff continue to face the risks involved with serving on the front lines of this pandemic – educating and caring for young children who do not yet have access to a vaccine.

Under this one-time grant program, childcare providers can use these dollars for a variety of purposes, including:

  • Personnel costs, including for both recruitment and retention efforts, such as sign-on bonuses and pay increases;
  • Operational costs, such as rent or mortgage payments, utilities, maintenance, and insurance;
  • Health and safety costs, such as Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), cleaning and sanitation supplies, and staff professional development related to health and safety practices;
  • Equipment and supplies;
  • Goods and services necessary to maintain or resume child care services;
  • Mental health services for children and staff; and,
  • Reimbursement for past COVID-19-related expenses incurred after January 31, 2020.

“This is an unprecedented amount of funding that we hope and believe will help these businesses and nonprofit organizations shore up their finances, recruit and retain early childhood professionals, and build capacity to serve more children, especially in communities where working families are struggling to access affordable child care options,” Acting DHS Secretary Meg Snead said. “The COVID-19 pandemic has had a significant impact on Pennsylvania’s child care industry – from increased expenses and decreased demand early in the pandemic to the current challenges of staffing shortages and waiting lists for families that need affordable child care to get back to work. Our goal with this funding distribution is to offset those challenges and create a pathway for recovery from this pandemic – not just for child care, but for our economy as a whole.”

Applications are open now through January 31, 2022 and be accessed online at: https://www.pakeys.org/arpastabilizationgrants

Providers will have nine months after their application is approved to use these dollars and provide a report to DHS on how those dollars were used.

While grants are based on the availability of funds, DHS partnered with Penn State’s Institute of State and Regional Affairs to develop a distribution methodology that is fair and maximizes the impact of every dollar.

“OCDEL issued small grants quickly during the onset of the pandemic, while collaborating with the Institute to gather and use quality data to inform later funding decisions. Over multiple rounds of funding, Pennsylvania has been responsive to both urgent needs and emerging research findings,” said Dr. Philip Sirinides, the institute’s director. “OCDEL is now in a position to distribute ARPA stabilization grants through an equitable and data-driven approach.”