The Maryland State Department of Education (MSDE) announced that licensed child care centers and registered family child care providers in Maryland can now apply for the first round of Child Care Stabilization Grants. These funds will help address the financial burdens and operational challenges faced by child care providers during and after the COVID-19 public health emergency.
The American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) of 2021 provides Maryland with $309 million for child care stabilization initiatives and grants to licensed providers that sustain the child care sector and build a stronger child care system. Providers can apply the grant funds to support children’s developmental and learning needs, promote equal access to high-quality child care, and support a professional workforce that is fairly and appropriately compensated for their essential skilled work.
Eligible child care programs are either currently operating or temporarily closed due to public health, financial hardship, or other reasons relating to the COVID-19 pandemic. Interested child care providers must complete an online application by August 6, 2021, and commit to being open and providing child care services no later than September 6, 2021. In addition, providers must note in the application how they plan to use the funds and whether funds are to be used for new or past expenses.
“As we emerge from the pandemic, we recognize the critical role that child care providers have played in the state’s overall recovery efforts – nurturing, caring, and educating our youngest children while simultaneously supporting our State’s economy,” said Governor Larry Hogan. “We are grateful to providers who have reopened and provided continued support to our children and families. With the infusion of funding from these grants, we hope to bolster our child care community and provide resources needed to continue the delivery of safe and reliable care to Maryland’s children.”
According to an MSDE press release:
“Family child care and center-based providers have been on the frontlines, supporting families throughout the pandemic and continue to be key partners in early childhood education,” said State Superintendent of Schools Mohammed Choudhury. “With these grants, providers can invest in a variety of operating areas, including: supporting the early childhood workforce through increased wages and benefits; overhead and sanitization costs; and goods and services necessary to maintain or resume child care services.”
At the beginning of the pandemic, only 29% of Maryland’s licensed child care providers were operating. In response, MSDE has supported the child care community with an investment of $155 million to date, including child care for essential personnel, as well as grants to child care providers to offset the costs of low capacity, lost income, Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), cleaning, and reopening. Today, 92% of Maryland’s licensed child care programs have reopened, and new programs have secured licensure.