Quality Child Care and Early Education Sustained through the Child Care Stabilization Grant Program

Published by The Bee News

August 5, 2021

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Quality Child Care and Early Education Sustained through the Child Care Stabilization Grant Program

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, Arizona has helped to maintain the strength and availability of child care for essential workers and for individuals returning to work. On May 7, 2021, Governor Doug Ducey and DES announced an additional $9 million for child care providers through the Child Care Workforce Retention and Recruitment (CCWRR) Grant Program for the continued support of our child care network and the child care workforce, bringing the total Child Care and Development Fund allocation appropriated through the 2020 CARES Act for Arizona’s child care network to $88 million. Prior to CCWRR, the Essential Workers Child Care Relief Scholarship Program and the Arizona Enrichment Centers were integral to ensuring the access of safe, reliable and quality child care, particularly for workers on the frontlines in our communities throughout the pandemic.

Our Latest Efforts: The Child Care Stabilization Grant Program

The support for Arizona’s child care network continues as parents return to work. On July 19, 2021, the DES Child Care Administration launched the Child Care Stabilization Grant Program, which supports child care providers by providing a consistent, reliable funding source to cover increased cost and challenges due to COVID-19 through June 2023. The federal government provided $1.2 billion in relief funding for the continuity and strengthening of child care, and this program is the latest effort by DES to keep child care centers open and available for state’s economic rebound. The Department has already received 1,400 applications, representing an estimated $9 million a month in grant funding. The first official review of applications will begin August 16, 2021, with the goal of supporting all 2,800 statewide child care providers.

The Importance of Child Care and Early Education

The importance of child care and early education cannot be overstated, particularly as thousands of Arizonans return to the workforce each week. Not only do our children need to be safe and cared for, but the impacts of education and engagement in the early years are seen throughout their entire lives, and have a direct effect on the future of Arizona’s next generation. While their parents return to work and advance within their careers, children can receive a strong foundation upon which they will be able to further develop as they grow.

When Governor Ducey and DES launched the Back to Work Program on May 15, 2021, the importance of reliable and accessible child care was a critical component. As such, the State will provide three months of child care assistance for eligible individuals with children who return to work after collecting unemployment benefits. While this program was specifically designed for individuals experiencing unemployment at the time of the announcement, DES has always provided child care assistance for eligible families in order to maintain or pursue employment and reach self-sufficiency. The need for care and supervision of our little ones should not be a barrier for parents who wish to succeed.

Gratitude for Our Child Care Network

Given the importance of child care, especially during the pandemic, it would not be an exaggeration to call our child care providers heroes, particularly as they’ve helped care for the children of first responders throughout the pandemic. Gratitude is owed to our DES Child Care Administration staff, and the many community partners across Arizona who have supported the early education and child care network. Together, with child care providers, they continue to play an integral role in our state as they directly support recovery efforts, and set the stage for prosperity for Arizona’s next generation.

I am truly grateful for the passion and commitment of our child care providers. Arizona could not have maintained its strong economy without their daily dedication to our children. We appreciate the collaboration and relationship as we work together to identify additional opportunities to rebound from the effects of the pandemic.

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