Child Care and the CARES Act

Child care providers hit hard by the pandemic are getting help to make sure their centers and homes are clean and safe for kids. Kent County awarded $450,000 of the federal CARES Act to First Steps Kent to distribute to providers across the community. Providers said what they need most is easy-to-clean toys and other materials to support the curriculum along with cleaning supplies.

"The toys were distributed in partnership with Discount School Supply. Denise Jones, local child care provider said, “The kids were so excited when the truck dropped off the boxes (I told them a surprise was coming). These toys will help us play outside and be socially distant, and help to expand our selection of indoor toys to allow more manipulatives, allowing the kids to spread out.”

Cleaning supplies, PPE, and other safety supplies were distributed in December and reached 66 child care centers and 197 in-home providers.

“I suspect that you have heard repeatedly, and I wanted to reiterate, how grateful ladies have been for the support you and others have provided through these past many difficult months,” said Dana Hokanson from Lucky Duck Childcare. “Sourcing inventory, supplies, and just as valuable, the recognition for important work caring for children, often demanding even in much less challenging times. Ladies who came to the pick-up line this past weekend shared stories about tears. Supplies distributed meant we can save time searching for, and money purchasing important resources to help support public health while doing our jobs.”

This builds on the work First Steps Kent and partners have been doing to support child care providers across the community. In July 2019, the nonprofit organization received a three-year grant to pilot a Shared Services model to offer more support and back-end services to child care centers and family homes.

With costs increasing, many child care businesses were being forced out of the industry. COVID-19 made that situation much worse. The Shared Services Pilot Project is intended to ease the burdens for child care providers during the pandemic and beyond to stabilize the pool of providers and ensure families seeking child care have access to quality programs.

For more questions regarding the Shared Services program, please visit this page. 

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