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Tag Archive: stimulus

  1. Economic Stimulus Package for VA Child Care

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    On Wednesday, April 15, Governor Ralph Northam and First Lady Pam Northam announced plans to use $70 million in federal economic stimulus funds to support child care programs. The plans allow child care programs to seek immediate relief to cover staff salaries while closed and to increase state support for programs staying open to serve essential personnel. The announcement mirrors the requests early childhood advocates made to the Northam Administration on March 31. And the plans go even further waiving parent co-pays and providing flexibility for schools to offer care to students of essential personnel while closed. The funds are included in proposed amendments to the FY20 budget that will be considered by the General Assembly at the April 22 Reconvened Session.

    Instructions and application materials were distributed to all child care providers already known to the Virginia Department of Social Services– licensed centers, family child care homes, religious-exempt preschools, and others.

    How Child Can Programs Can Receive Stimulus Funds

    • Closed programs are asked to submit manual attendance records for children receiving state subsidies while closed.
    • Programs remaining open are asked to attest that they are following heightened safety procedures and that they are serving essential personnel. Grants will be awarded on a formula based on a $25 per child, per week for half of the program’s licensed capacity during the time they remain open.  Any program, even if they do not currently enroll students receiving state subsidy, can seek funds. Details on how currently open centers can apply for grants are here.
    • Public school divisions wanting to seek funding to provide emergency child care can email superintendent@doe.virginia.gov.
    • Programs will automatically receive the parent co-pay portion of child care subsidy payments during April, May and June.

    Immediate Relief May Not Satisfy Every Concern

    While child care programs are fortunate to see some immediate relief and support as essential workforce, this stimulus payment may not satisfy every concern. Child care providers still lack access to PPE and cleaning supplies. With uncertainty about the timeline for returning to “normal” activity, planned payments through June raise questions about what happens after that time. And, a “one size fits all” payment based on a formula of $25 per student does not factor in the higher costs of living in Northern Virginia to provide child care services.

    What Early Care Advocates Can Do

    • Thank the Governor, First Lady of Virginia, Commissioner of Social Services and Superintendent of Public Instruction for taking quick action to provide resources. Post a thank you on social media and even include children or educators in your program.
    • Let your state delegate and senator know that they are helping to provide some financial stimulus to your program through their approval of the budget.
    • Get ready for more advocacy! Congress will likely act on another stimulus package where additional support for child care will be on the table.
    • Document and share any gaps that still exist. Child care providers are also encouraged to seek other stimulus funds such as Payroll Protection Loans, unemployment insurance for self-employment, small business grants and philanthropic donations. A guide to navigate these offerings is provided by the Virginia Early Childhood Foundation. When these funds are still not enough to cover costs, please document where you are continuing to see financial instability.

    These actions are important to stabilize the industry but by themselves do no do enough to provide financial security for an essential, but often low-paid workforce. They do not address how financially strapped families may afford child care in the future. Child care providers and parents facing financial insecurity are encouraged to apply for health care, nutrition, cash assistance and child care benefits through the Commonhelp portal. While child care subsidy eligibility is tied to employment and income levels, the eligibility level for child care assistance is higher than other benefits. If a family is recently eligible for Medicaid assistance they are likely eligible for child care assistance as well.

    More information and FAQs for providers are available at childcareva.com

  2. Stabilize Child Care with the CARES Act Stimulus

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    As COVID-19 continues to present challenges to the child care community, we are looking for ways tht  policymakers can respond. On March 27th, Congress included $3.5 billion in additional resources for child care programs in the stimulus package, the CARES Act. This will result in an additional $67 million for Virginia allocated to our Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG).

    Virginia uses federal CCDBG dollars to support child care subsidy, licensing and quality improvement. States have a lot of choices to make with these federal dollars, and a lot of flexibility to meet the needs of working families and child care programs.

    The stimulus provides additional flexibility with an emphasis on responding to the COVID-19 crisis. Funds can now be used to:

    1. Continue payment for child care subsidy upon decreased enrollment or temporary closure.
    2. Provide financial assistance for child care regardless of income for essential personnel such as health care workers and emergency responders.
    3. Purchase emergency cleaning supplies and sanitation activities in response to COVID-19.

    Virginia policymakers must make decisions about how these additional funds will be used. Voices has heard from home-based family child care providers, nonprofits,and center-based providers that there is an immediate need to ensure that these financial resources are available to support the child care community.

    Child care stakeholders shared their feedback with Voices. Advocates ask that the state use federal Child Care and Development Block Grant dollars to:

    • Continue to pay the state’s portion of financial assistance for income eligible families who choose not to send their children to care in line with stay-at-home orders or for child care programs that choose to close. The state should act to continue to pay providers at least for March and April.
      • The existing caseload for child care assistance payments would already be accounted for in the current state funds before the recent federal increase.
      • Providers needing to pay staff or pay rent/overhead were anticipating to receive these state payments during March and April and will now not receive that revenue unless Virginia acts to support child care programs.
      • In the cases where programs are open but parents are choosing to keep their children at home, currently the state requires the parent to call their child care program every day to report the absence. This is an onerous task on parents during a stressful time and makes the income more unpredictable for providers.

     

    • Pay a differential to programs modifying their practices to serve children safely.
      • As many child care programs modify their practices to implement rigorous cleaning protocols and provide safe care for children they have encountered additional costs. From the costs for additional thermometers and staff to screen children, to cleaning supplies and additional cleaning staff, to pay differentials for staff who are putting their own health and safety at risk, center-based programs estimate an additional $75 per child, per day to modify their practices.
      • While the federal funds provide additional resources, it is the state’s option as to what type of differential to offer and which programs qualify. Other states have controlled this by determining which programs would remain open and asking families to qualify as essential personnel. Some states have paid a weekly stipend to programs serving essential personnel while others have increased child care subsidy rates for participating providers.

     

    • Provide funding and resources to access personal protective gear and cleaning supplies to ensure the safety of the child care workforce in programs that remain open.
      • Many early childhood educators work in the field because they love working with children. However, even the most dedicated workforce will have some fears and concerns about working in close proximity with children every day, uncertain if they have been exposed to Coronavirus.

    While there are difficult choices to make, one choice is simple: Virginia must support child care programs now or we risk them closing and not being able to re-open.

    Where the state can act to stabilize the child care industry it should and should act quickly. Continuing to pay providers that serve economically disadvantaged families, and offering additional resources to programs following more rigorous safety protocols, are essential steps to support the child care industry.

    Join us in asking the state to prioritize a swift response to stabilize child care providers. Please share this message with your state and local elected officials. 

  3. Easing Families’ Financial Burdens through Federal Response to COVID-19

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    On March 18, Congress passed the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, which provides relief to health care systems, additional paid sick leave, family leave and unemployment benefits.  

    On March 26, the Senate passed the CARES Stimulus package that provides economic stimulus payments to families and additional unemployment benefits. The House of Representatives is expected to vote on the bill on Friday, March 27th 

    Some key features of recent legislation that will impact families include: 

    • Cash payments to all tax filers: All families earning under $199,000 per year would receive a stimulus check or direct cash payment. These payments would be generated to all who filed taxes in 2018 as direct deposits.  

    Calculate what your family will likely receive: Washington Post Calculator 

    While this cash assistance is notable to alleviate immediate pressures and stimulate the economy, it is important to highlight , for example, that $1,200 will cover more expenses in Farmville than it will in Fairfax.   

    • Expanded paid sick days and paid family leave: The first federal response package included an expansion of federally mandated paid sick and family leave, which would apply to anyone ill due to Coronavirus, caring for family members, or caring for children when schools have closed due to Coronavirus. Full-time workers would get up to two weeks of paid leave, and part-time workers would get leave equal to the number of hours they work on average over a two-week period. Payments would be capped at $511 a day for those who are sick with the virus or seeking care, and $200 a day for those caring for a sick family member or children. 

    While these paid leave expansions are commendable, there are notable exceptions. Employers with fewer than 50 employees are exempt from these requirements.  

    • Expanded unemployment benefits: Federal and state officials have made adjustments to unemployment insurance procedures to help families. The CARES Act Stimulus bill expands unemployment insurance from three to four months, and it provides temporary unemployment compensation of $600 per week, which is in addition to and the same time as regular state and federal UI benefits. It also allows part-time, self-employed and gig economy workers to have access to unemployment benefits. The Governor has acted to fast-track response time and waive requirements around job search.  

    Anyone that has lost a job or experienced a reduction in wages should contact the Virginia Employment Commission, even if self-employed.  

    Additional resources are available for: 

    • Food/nutrition: to find free food distribution sites organized by local school districts and other community organizations, text FOOD or COMIDA to 877-877. For food assistance program eligibility information and to apply for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), visit CommonHelp. If you are pregnant or are caring for a child under age 5, you may also be eligible for WIC. You can learn about WIC eligibility here and apply online here. 
    •  Child care and health insurance coverage: to determine if you are eligible for financial assistance for child care and health insurance coverage through Medicaid or FAMIS visit CommonHelp.