State Announces $30 Million Grant Program to Support Early Education and Care Critical Infrastructure

The Baker-Polito Administration announced last week that it would allocate more than $30 million in grants to support early education and care providers in the Commonwealth. These investments announced at the March 9 Board of Early Education and Care meeting will be distributed by the Department of Early Education and Care (EEC) and will be instrumental in addressing the challenges child care programs face in sustaining services.

EEC’s investment in both center-based programs and family child-care programs will be available through two grant opportunities. Child-care services are a critical part of the Commonwealth’s infrastructure and a vital component in the economic recovery to help families fully return to work. The funding announced today will support the following initiatives:

•$15 million grants for Center-Based programs: Workforce grants will support center-based providers serving state-subsidized families to maintain and expand operations by addressing the challenge of recruiting and retaining qualified staff members during the COVID-19 crisis.

•$15 million grants for Family Child Care providers: Capital grants for family child care programs will support these small businesses to make health, safety, and quality improvements to their program space and ensure they can remain open to the families that need them.

In addition, EEC announced proposed plans for distributing $110 million in federal stimulus funds, which will be distributed, pending legislative appropriation, through monthly operational grants available to EEC licensed providers to help maintain current child care capacity during the COVID-19 economic recovery. When these flexible funds become available they can be used to support continued child-care operations, health and safety requirements and enable quality improvements.

In order to address the changing landscape of child care programs as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, when families have been slow to return to full-time care and the cost of running programs has increased to meet health and safety requirements, moving from a per-child funding model to an operational support model is necessary to ensure the viability of the field despite fluctuations in enrollment. The per-child funding models has not sufficed to stabilize the industry and ensure educators remain in the workforce to care for children. Without consistent revenue from enrollment, the child care infrastructure is vulnerable to further decreases in capacity. This investment will sustain capacity and lay the groundwork for the future.

“By investing in programs to sustain capacity now and laying the groundwork for innovation needed in the future, we will build a stronger, more resilient, and responsive child care field for families,” said Education Secretary James Peyser.

The COVID-19 health crisis and its widespread impacts have demonstrated the importance of early education and care to support the economic well-being of the Commonwealth and its residents. This new funding availability will invest in the state’s childcare infrastructure and the healthy development of children and youth that results from quality early education programs.

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