RICHMOND, Va. (WFXR) — Last week, Gov. Ralph Northam announced an additional $203.6 million in federal stimulus funds and expanded eligibility criteria for the Child Care Subsidy Program will help to further stabilize Virginia’s early childhood care assistance to additional families as they seek stable employment or return to work, as well as deliver critical operational and technical resources to new and returning child care providers.
First Lady Pamela Northam and House Speaker Eileen Filler-Corn celebrated the new investments during a virtual meeting of the Northam Administration’s Children’s Cabinet on Thursday. Video of the First Lady and Speaker is available below.
While nearly 90-percent of child care center programs have reopened, the pandemic has resulted in ongoing staffing challenges, revenue shortfalls, and increased operational costs for many providers.
Through the additional funding, Virginia will continue to provide stabilization grants to sustain current providers and help closed providers re-open as well as retention bonuses and scholarships for child care educators.
In support of these families and children, Virginia will also offer grants to help open new programs.
The expansion is a result of House Bill 2206 which establishes a new short-term eligibility category for parents seeking financial assistance for child care while they are looking for employment and temporarily expands income eligibility guidelines for families with young children.
The new income eligibility levels allow families with household incomes of up to 85-percent of the state median income to apply if they have a child under the age of five, or not yet in kindergarten, to qualify.
Funding comes from federal coronavirus relief funds dedicated to child care assistance that Virginia received through the December 2020 stimulus package.
Additional federal funding will support families and child care providers by enabling the Commonwealth to do the following:
- Waive co-payments for families in April, May and June to reduce financial hardship and support children’s access to care;
- Increase absence days so that providers and families can manage occurrences where child care providers may temporarily need to close or children may need to quarantine;
- Build the foundation for a statewide mental health consultation program to assist child care providers in helping children through this difficult time;
- Issue a fourth round of child care stabilization grants to eligible open providers in the Commonwealth;
- Provide funding for grants and contracts to support increased access to child care in underserved communities; and
- Supplement the state’s innovative child care educator incentive program so that eligible educators in child care centers and family day homes that receive public funding such as the Child Care Subsidy Program are now eligible for up to $2,000 this year to strengthen quality and reduce turnover.