Governor Walz Announces $135 Million in Federal Funding to Support Child Care in Minnesota
Funding will support providers and improve access to child care for families impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic
ST. PAUL, MN (STL.News) Governor Tim Walz announced that the State has received $135 million in federal relief funding to support child care in Minnesota. The new funding will support child care providers and improve access to child care for low-income families disproportionately impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The child care industry has been essential to our COVID-19 response and it will help drive our economic recovery forward,” said Governor Walz. “This funding will go directly to child care providers and working families to ease the hardships they’ve faced over the last year. I’m grateful to our federal partners for helping us support this critical industry.”
The new funding comes from the federal Consolidated Appropriations Act that was passed in December. The funding is in addition to $48 million that the state previously received in federal relief for child care.
“The child care industry is the work force behind our work force and the backbone of our economy, but the last year has brought unimaginable challenges to child care providers and working families across the state,” said Lieutenant Governor Peggy Flanagan. “With a focus on equity, this new funding centers the needs of low income families disproportionately impacted by the pandemic and provides critical financial support to child care providers across the state.”
“This additional much-needed funding will be used to improve access to child care, especially for families with low incomes,” said Department of Human Services Commissioner Jodi Harpstead. “It also will help support child care providers, who are essential to Minnesota’s pandemic response and economic recovery.”
The Minnesota Department of Human Services (DHS) will allocate the funding as follows:
- $87 million to continue the COVID-19 Public Health Support Funds program through May 2021. These funds, which provide monthly payments to eligible child care providers must be used to support employees with overtime and incentive bonuses; cover additional cleaning, sanitation and staffing costs associated with adhering to COVID-19 health protocols; and cushion the impact of temporary closures due to a COVID-19 outbreak or to ensure staff can receive the vaccine.
- $35 million for the Basic Sliding Fee Child Care Assistance Program over calendar years 2021, 2022 and 2023 to serve more of the families on child care waiting lists (82% of whom are frontline essential workers with lower household incomes).
- $5 million to help child care programs build sustainability, reopen or start up through consultation, business supports, grants and loans.
- $5 million for family support initiatives over the next six to 12 months with the help of stakeholders to identify emerging needs.
- $3 million to support and increase access to family, friend and neighbor caregivers.
DHS based this funding plan on the following guiding principles:
- Prioritize access for families with low incomes.
- Support child care industry as essential to the state’s COVID-19 response and economic recovery.
- Invest to build a stronger, more equitable system in the long-term.
- Ensure the process to access funding and the implementation are not unduly burdensome.
DHS has sent emails to eligible child care providers with information about how to apply for relief funds. The application period for March payments just closed with more than 8,300 child care providers anticipated to receive payments.