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Estimated $1 Billion For California Child Care In Federal Coronavirus Relief Package

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The coronavirus relief package President Donald Trump signed into law Sunday night includes $10 billion for child care programs. California’s cut is slightly more than $1 billion.

“It is far less support than we think the system actually needs,” said Kate Gallagher Robbins, director of child care and early education at the Center for Law and Social Policy in Washington, D.C. “But for providers who are currently putting expenses on their personal credit cards, for families who can't afford to pay for child care that they need, it's hugely important."

The center created state-by-state estimates based on several factors including how previous stimulus dollars for child care were distributed, poverty rates and the number of kids in the state. California’s is the second largest payout in the country, coming in just behind Texas, which will receive about $74 million more.

The act also includes $250 million for the federally funded early education program Head Start.

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“Child care is critical for any type of economic recovery,” said First 5 LA vice president Christina Altmayer. “Child care workers are essential so that parents can go to work, be they frontline emergency workers or just everyone in terms of their day-to-day job.”

The legislation also gives the states more time to spend money from the previous federal stimulus package.

“One of the challenges there’s been is developing the infrastructure that’s necessary for the distribution of funds,” Altmayer said.

California funneled most of the money from the first stimulus act into subsidies for child care providers, vouchers to help essential workers pay for child care and waiving fees for low-income families.

It’s likely at least some of the new money will be spent on similar programs. The most recent state budget outlined how the state would spend up to $300 million in future federal dollars:

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  • $150 million to help families pay for child care.
  • $125 million to pay stipends to providers who are caring for children through the state subsidy program.
  • $25 million to help child care providers who have closed during the pandemic reopen.

Child care advocates had called for $50 billion to help sustain providers and support families. In California, at least 1,420 child care centers and homes shut down during the pandemic and more than 13,000 closed temporarily.

“We need to continue to expand help to families in need," said California Child Care Resource & Referral Network public policy director Keisha Nzewi. "And we need to make sure we have a child care industry to come back to once everyone is back to work outside of the home.”

California and other states have 60 days from the bill’s final approval to provide the federal government with a plan for how they’ll spend the money.

“This is a moment for advocates, for parents to providers, [to] reach out to your state agencies,” Robbins said. “Tell them what you need.”

IMPORTANT LINKS:

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Help Finding Child Care: The Child Care Alliance of Los Angeles website locates the nearest child care referral agency where you can get help finding a provider and see if you qualify for financial assistance.

L.A County Department of Public Health Early Care & Education COVID-19 Toolkit: Guidelines for minimizing risk and what to do if there's a coronavirus case (or if a provider suspects one).

READ MORE ABOUT CHILD CARE:

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