50 signatures reached
To: Colorado Office of Early Childhood and Governor Polis
Congress Gave $10 Billion in Relief for Child Care- Make Sure it Reaches the Providers
Congress Gave Colorado $119 Million Dollars to Support the Stability of the Child Care Sector During the COVID-19 Pandemic…. But in Colorado the Funds Won’t Go to Providers!
The Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations (CRRSA) Act provided $10 billion in supplemental Child Care and Development Fund (CCDF) funding to prevent, prepare for, and respond to coronavirus, but HHS OCC did not provide the oversight required to ensure that the funds were being used in alignment with the act.
These funds were intended to serve as targeted aid to assist the early childhood education sector, which had been greatly harmed by the pandemic. The vast majority of early childhood providers are small, female owned, microenterprises. During the pandemic, they largely remained open (unlike public schools), and continued serving children and families in person, but doing so was exhausting, dangerous (726 child care workers tested positive during 223 reported outbreaks alone, and at least one child care worker in Colorado died during a 12/30/20 outbreak at Acacia Learning Center in Denver and several facilities are under current OSHA investigation), and was not lucrative.
Operating expenses soared under the new regulations and revenues declined precipitously: The National Organization for Young Children (NAEYC) found that without urgent relief half of the nation’s existing child care facilities were at risk of closing and the industry was at risk of collapsing. The CDC estimated that child care facilities would incur additional COVID-19 related expenses of $22 per child per week during the pandemic just to comply with their guidelines (and these expenses are still ongoing for providers). The Center for American Progress found that the cost of providing home based family child care went up 70% and the cost of providing center based care went up 47% during the pandemic (with the biggest increase in costs affecting classrooms that cared for 3 & 4 year olds due to limitations on group sizes). At the same time that costs soared, NAEYC reported that average childcare enrollments for both home providers and centers declined 67%. These microenterprises struggled to access the sources of capital available to other types of small businesses. Many providers dipped into their own pockets and put expenses on personal credit cards to remain operational. It was widely acknowledged that women had incurred disproportionate impacts during the pandemic (due to leaving the workforce to remain home and perform child care duties), any that economic recovery would depend upon the availability of child care and the functioning of this sector.
As a result, Congress approved $10 billion in targeted aid to the child care sector through the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations (CRRSA). To receive funds, required each state’s lead agency (in Colorado, the Office of Early Childhood) to submit a letter detailing (among other things) “How the lead agency plans to use CRRSA funds to support the stability of the child care sector to help child care providers (program facilities and workforce) pay for increased operating expenses during the COVID-19 public health emergency?” and also “How they will provide assistance to providers not participating in the low income subsidy system (in Colorado, CCAP) prior to the COVID-19 public health emergency?”
Most states opted to give funds directly to providers in the form of flexible grants that could be used as needed- for payroll, operating expenses, PPE, recruitment or retention bonuses, hazard pay, to hire a mental health consultant for their facility, or provide scholarships and training opportunities to offset these increased expenses. Through this program, child care providers would receive $500 per child in Alabama, $525 per child in California, $8,500 for each licensed center in Minnesota, $22 per child per week in Pennsylvania, $6,500 for each provider in Washington, etc. But in Colorado, providers will not receive any funds to offset additional expenses incurred during the pandemic, and aren’t guaranteed to receive any funds. Help isn’t coming.
In Colorado, NO funds will be distributed to providers to offset the additional expenses facilities have incurred during the pandemic, NO funds are guaranteed for facilities that do not accept the low income subsidy, CCAP, and the majority (55% of the grant funds) are guaranteed to go to other entities (community colleges/scholarship funds, county councils/referral systems, parents, and consultants, and winners of competitive grants that are available to counties, school systems, for profits, community groups, and special interests).
Why is this important?
Child care facilities remain on the brink of closure! Please tell Colorado to give their child care facilities the funds Congress allocated for them. Please ask the US Department of Health and Human Services Office of Child Care to provide better oversight of these funds. Please ask the General Accountability Office to investigate misappropriation of these public funds.