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CARES Act funds will support Nebraska’s child care system as state moves toward economic recovery

Updated 6.25.20

The Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) has announced that $20 million in federal dollars will be used to stabilize and strengthen Nebraska’s child care infrastructure, as well as other school-based education services for children. The funding was made possible through a $3.5 billion appropriation to the Child Care and Development Fund (CCDF) following passage of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act in March.

The announcement comes after First Five Nebraska, in collaboration with the Nebraska Children and Families Foundation, Nebraska Early Childhood Collaborative, Buffett Early Childhood Institute and Buffett Early Childhood Fund submitted policy recommendations to state and federal officials to address the most critical challenges facing the state’s early childhood system resulting from the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Jason Prokop, director of First Five Nebraska, said the allocation of dollars from CCDF has significant implications for the sustainability, quality and reach of child care services necessary to help re-start the state economy.

“We applaud Governor Ricketts and the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services for recognizing the importance of quality child care to our state’s families, employers and communities. Deployment of CARES Act funds in this manner is smart policy and serves as a crucial part of Nebraska’s response and recovery plan. Today’s announcement is a lifeline to the early care and education professionals need to help our state meet this challenge head on and build back better.”

The Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services has released approximate allocations of the CCDF funds:

  • Child Care Relief Fund Grants | $267,000: Offer relief funds to child care providers who have already applied for the grant program administered by Nebraska Children and Families Foundation and the Nebraska Early Childhood Collaborative. The infusion of CARES Act dollars will fund eligible applicants still on the waitlist for relief grants.
  • Child Care Provider Stabilization Grants | $8,705,000: Offer one-time grant awards to family child care homes ($3,500) and center-based programs ($5,500) to cover operational costs, rent and mortgage, staff salaries, cleaning and personal protective supplies and related needs.
  • Incentive Grants for Reopening Child Care Programs | $1,000,000: Facilitate reopening of child care programs that have temporarily suspended operations during the public health emergency. Providers must commit to reopening within 30 days, participate in quality improvement initiatives and deliver care to children of low-income families or parents working in essential occupations.
  • Nebraska Child Care Referral Network | $500,000: Supports continued development of a newly launched online platform to connect working parents with child care providers based on program type, children’s ages, location, participation in Step Up to Quality and Child Care Subsidy and other criteria.
  • Afterschool and Summer Learning for School Age Children | $4,000,000: Supports future collaboration between DHHS and Beyond School Bells, Nebraska's After School Network with the Nebraska Children and Families Foundation. 

 

The infusion of CARES Act funds coincides with growing concern in Nebraska and across the nation about the vulnerability of the child care industry to economic disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Many providers have expressed doubt they would be able to successfully reopen their businesses after even a temporary closure due to the public health emergency. According to the Nebraska Department of Labor, child care was the fifth highest occupation in the state for initial unemployment claims filed between March 21 and April 25. 

“Even though child care is crucially important to all sectors of business and industry, this profession offers very little financial stability even in healthy economic conditions,” said Elizabeth Everett, senior policy associate for First Five Nebraska. “CARES Act funding will give providers a better chance to weather the current crisis so working parents can return to their jobs when it is feasible to do so. But moving forward, Nebraska’s public and private sectors need to work together to build more financial resiliency into licensed child care. That starts with recognizing this industry as an indispensable part of our state’s economic infrastructure.”

Catrina Allen
June 03, 2020

How do we fill out the
Childcare Provider
Stabilization Grant

Jeanne boesch
June 03, 2020

Do I qualify? I’ve lost almost $7,000 in lost payment since march.

Mary Stastny
June 03, 2020

I don’t have a full daycare because of the covid-19. I am staying open and would love to help people that need my child daycare. Some financial help would be greatly appreciated.

First Five Nebraska
June 03, 2020

Child care providers: Nebraska Children and Families Foundation and the Department of Health and Human Services are working on developing a sub-award contract, and anticipate they’ll have further communication about the timeline and process of applying for these funds in the next few weeks. FFN will help get the word out when we know more via our Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/firstfivenebraska/.

Alea Woodward
June 03, 2020

Wanting information on how to apply please.

Hi Alea,
Nebraska Children and Families Foundation and the Department of Health and Human Services are working on developing a sub-award contract, and anticipate they’ll have further communication about the timeline and process of applying for these funds in the next few weeks. FFN will help get the word out via our Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/firstfivenebraska/ when we know more.

Shanda
June 03, 2020

I would like to say THANK YOU for helping us!

Mary Stastny
June 04, 2020

Mary’s little tots,is open for the care of children. I’ve lost children because of the covid-19 which has made financial difficulties. I have openings for six children. Just give me a call and we can set up an interview this would be greatly appreciated. Thank you

Nicole moreno
June 04, 2020

information on how to apply
Thank you

Nicole,
Nebraska Children and Families Foundation and the Department of Health and Human Services are working on developing a sub-award contract, and anticipate they’ll have further communication about the timeline and process of applying for these funds in the next few weeks. FFN will help get the word out via our Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/firstfivenebraska/ when we know more.

Jody Strecker
June 30, 2020

Are these funds going to have to be payed back?


Hi Jody,

These are grants, which do not need to be paid back.

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