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California Child Care Providers Risk Missing Out On Thousands In Pandemic Relief Funds

A group of children wearing panda face shields watch a teacher while sitting on the floor.
There are about 42,000 licensed child care centers and homes in California.
(Manoja Weerakoon for LAist's Child Care, Unfiltered project)
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Licensed California child care providers are entitled to thousands of dollars to help stabilize their businesses during the pandemic, but as of mid-December one-third of them had not completed the registration necessary to receive the money.

The stipends are part of a $579 million package of pandemic relief funding for child care providers included in California’s most recent budget at the urging of the child care providers union.

Individual payments range from $3,500 for licensed family child care homes to $6,5000 for larger centers.

The state’s Department of Social Services told us 14,260 of the state’s approximately 42,000 licensed providers haven’t completed the required registration.

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To qualify, providers needed to be licensed as of June 25, 2021.

The agency has asked local nonprofits to help get the word out to child care providers.

Even as this funding is distributed, some providers say there’s a need for ongoing financial aid to support the higher cost of operating during the pandemic.

How One Child Care Provider Survived The Pandemic

Charvon Jones owns three child care centers in and around Inglewood, and said she’s run her business for seven years without any loans, but in March 2020 her enrollment plummeted from 89 kids to two in the span of a day.

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“Once the pandemic happened, I didn't have a choice but to rely on the resources that were given to us from the government,” Jones said.

Between the Paycheck Protection Program and another Small Business Administration loan that she’ll have to pay back, Jones received about $500,000.

The money helped pay for more sinks at her schools to encourage hand-washing, an outdoor learning space and raises to retain the nearly two dozen staff members she employs.

Jones said her enrollment has rebounded in recent months and she now has a waiting list.

“I want to provide quality services to our families,” Jones said. “I don’t do the bare minimum.”

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Decades of research indicates early childhood education significantly boosts children’s readiness to learn. Mariana Dale wants families, caregivers and educators to have the information they need to help children 0-5 grow and thrive by identifying what’s working and what’s not in California’s early childhood system.