Last week, Governor Doug Ducey and the Arizona Department of Economic Security announced an additional $9 million in aid for child care providers throughout the state.
With this funding, Arizona will have allocated a total of $88 million in Child Care and Development Fund relief funding for the child care network, providers and families since the beginning of the pandemic, as appropriated through the 2020 CARES Act.
As the Arizona economy continues to strengthen and jobs grow, today’s funding for the Child Care Workforce Retention and Recruitment (CCWRR) Grant Program will be critical in ensuring child care is available for Arizonans reentering the workforce.
“Parents and families need access to safe, reliable, and high quality child care, especially as Arizonans go back to work and job opportunities expand,” said Governor Ducey. “With the additional funding announced today, we’re making sure more working families have access to that care. I’m grateful to all Arizonans working to ensure families and kids have the support and resources they need, and am proud to celebrate Child Care Provider Appreciation Day.”
As proclaimed by Governor Ducey, Child Care Provider Appreciation Day is recognized today, May 7, 2021, and is an opportunity to show appreciation to those who care for Arizona kids and enable parents to maintain and advance their careers.
“The child care provider community is worthy of celebration year-round, and we will continue to pursue every opportunity to provide assistance to our child care partners so they can support Arizona’s strong economic growth,” said Arizona Department of Economic Security (DES) Director Michael Wisehart. “Our child care provider network is not only critical to our immediate future, but also in the success of the next generation, as early education and care lay the groundwork for the development of Arizona children.”
“COVID-19 has affected all of us, and child care providers have faced barriers to finding or keeping qualified staff,” shared Barbie Prinster, Program Director of the Arizona Early Childhood Education Association. “This past year has also highlighted how essential our child care workforce is. With this grant, we recognize them directly by honoring the commitment they have to serving children and families.”
The CCWRR Grant Program provides immediate support to child care providers in hiring qualified staff and retaining existing staff. This grant program will help all regulated child care providers with recruitment and retention costs to support the child care workforce in Arizona. These funds are made available to Arizona through the Child Care and Development Fund CARES Act, 2020.
Child care centers and group homes must use grant funds for salaries and benefits for employees, and bonus incentives for hiring and retention. Group homes and family child care homes without staff, grant funds may be utilized for a variety of expenses including licensing fees, liability insurance, tuition and registration relief for families, lease and mortgage payments, utilities, classroom materials, and supplies.
While child care providers must apply and attest that they are open and providing child care services at the time of application and for the duration of the grant, grants are not competitive. Grant awards will be paid in one sum amount, with distribution of payments initiated on June 24, 2021. Child care providers will have until September 30, 2021 to spend the grant funds.
In addition to the CCWRR Grant, the Department has also extended the Essential Workers Child Care Relief Scholarship through June 30, 2021, allowing essential workers and child care providers access to vital child care.
“Child care is a critical issue facing healthcare workers on the frontline. As schools went virtual, this had an incredible impact on our workforce as essential workers had to choose between earning a paycheck and taking care of their children at home,” said TMC HealthCare President and CEO Judy Rich. “Programs like the Essential Worker Child Care Relief Scholarship Program are critical to keeping our essential workers on the frontline knowing their children are safe.”
“Ensuring parents have access to safe child care benefits our workforce and economic growth,” said Arizona Food Marketing Alliance Mark Miller. “Arizona’s funding for child care providers allows people to work, and it kept grocery stores well-staffed at the height of the pandemic. The Arizona Food Marketing Alliance can’t express our gratitude enough for Governor Ducey’s commitment to supporting parents, families and child care providers.”
For additional information regarding both the Child Care Workforce Retention and Recruitment Grant and extension of the EWCCR, providers can visit: des.az.gov/services/child-and-family/child-care.
Additional Resources and Support for Providers
The DES Child Care Administration is providing additional support for child care providers to improve business practices. Most of the nation’s early childhood education (ECE) providers operate as small businesses, and sound fiscal management is key to sustainability. Through a partnership with the Arizona Association for the Education of Young Children (AzAEYC), the DES Child Care Administration will provide all licensed and DES-contracted child care providers with one year of access to the AZToolkit, a subscription-based website with resources designed for child care providers to strengthen business skills and save time, money, and improve quality.
To build capacity alongside AZToolkit subscriptions and strengthen implementation of effective business practices, DES will also contract with Southwest Human Development (SWHD) to conduct four cohorts of up to 80 child care providers who will receive Early Childhood Business Practices mentoring and coaching. Implementation for both the AZToolkit and Business Practices cohorts is expected to begin in May 2021.