Free Childcare Offered to Arizonans Returning to Work

As part of Arizona’s Back to Work Program, the state will provide three months of child care assistance for individuals with children who return to work after collecting unemployment benefits.

But even though this incentive is desperately needed, one daycare provider said many people still don’t know about it.

When COVID-19 hit and people started losing their jobs, Anderson Preparatory Academy near Seventh Street and Thunderbird Road lost 70% of its enrollment. So when the governor started announcing child care incentives, they thought they were going to get dozens of kids back. But so far that hasn’t happened.

“I don’t really have much help when it comes to people watching my kids,” said Phoenix mother Alyssa Arenas. She said struggling to find adequate childcare for her 4-year-old daughter and two-year-old son was the reason she stayed unemployed for so long. “I needed to go back to work and I was trying to figure out how I was going to try to do that with my kids,” said Arenas.

Tara O’Neale, the Director of Anderson Preparatory Academy, said since Gov. Doug Ducey announced the child care incentive, it seemed like none of her returning families knew about it.

“I kind of want to get the message out there. I know he announced it a long time ago and I know the website is very hard to navigate,” said O’Neale.

To be eligible, an individual must:

  • Be a parent or guardian in need of child care assistance for their children ages 12 and younger.
  • Have filed an initial claim for unemployment benefits in Arizona.
  • Received an unemployment benefit payment for the benefit week ending May 8, 2021 or May 15, 2021.
  • (NOTE: Individuals who received unemployment benefits before or after, but NOT during the benefit week ending May 8, 2021 or May 15, 2021, are not eligible for this program. However, if you are interested in applying for regular Child Care Assistance)
  • Currently be employed full-time or part time.
  • Earn $25 per hour or less at a new job (equivalent to a yearly salary of $52,000 or less).

Eligible people can apply for the free child care by completing this online application located on Arizona’s Department of Economic Security’s website through September 6.

Currently Anderson Preparatory Academy is hiring, they have five full-time child care positions available. If you’d like to apply contact Tara O’Neale (602) 938-3114.

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