Those who work in the child care industry are about to get some much-needed support through the Child Care Stabilization Fund. This fund includes a series of programs that are designed to provide immediate support to the child care industry. The first program to roll out is a retention bonus, which provide up to $6000 for providers and employees who were operating during the peak of the pandemic.
In the spring of 2022, the Humboldt County Board of Supervisors voted to allocate $4.86 million of State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds (SLFRF) funding to support our child care industry. Arcata Economic Development Corporation (AEDC) is taking the administrative lead on the project, in partnership with the County of Humboldt, in partnership with Changing Tides Family Services, First 5 Humboldt, and the Humboldt County Office of Education Local Child Care Planning Council to create a collaborative effort that integrates other child care services and resources for providers and parents.
“Investing in child care is an effective economic development strategy,” notes Jeanine Canedo-Moncrief, Deputy Director of Changing Tides Family Services. “A small licensed family child care home with eight children can help enable each of those parents to find or keep a job, providing the necessary workforce for local businesses and generating additional earned income, which ripples out in expanded economic growth.”
Even before the pandemic, one survey revealed that 80% of working families in Humboldt struggled to find adequate licensed care. Turnover rates with child care employees were also high. Then, in March of 2020, roughly one-third of available child care facilities in Humboldt County closed, with six percent of child care facilities closing permanently. Between a higher rate of staff turnover and decreased capacity, our already weakened child care system is currently facing an unprecedented crisis.
With this reality in mind, the Child Care Task Force decided to start distributing the funds with a retention bonus for those who worked in this essential industry throughout the height of the pandemic and have plans to remain open. ”By providing retention bonuses, we hope to stabilize the workforce and show appreciation for those who worked during the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic,” states Susan Seaman, Program Director at AEDC.
Bonuses are available to both owners of child care facilities and individual employees.
Licensed child care centers or family care facilities that were open on or before July 1, 2022 with plans to remain open until June 30, 2023 or longer are eligible for a retention bonus of between $4,000 and $6,000.
Individuals who worked in a child care facility on or before July 1, 2021 with plans to remain in the industry until at least June 30, 2023 are eligible for a retention bonus of between $2,000 and $3,000.
Applications for this program are now available on HumboldtChildCare.org. “We’re intentionally making the process as easy as possible,” says Jade Hoff, Program Manager for Humboldt Child Care Stabilization Fund. “I am honored to get to help business owners, individuals, and families connected to the child care industry access the resources they need to help stabilize this important community service.”
Retention bonuses will be distributed on a first-come, first-served basis. Funds will be distributed within 60 days after the application is approved. Additional programs, such as facility improvement loan forgiveness, hiring bonuses, educational loan forgiveness, subsidies for working parents and administrative back end support for caregivers and a task force to seek con will be rolled out in the coming months.
AEDC is a Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI) committed to delivering responsible, affordable lending to help low-income, low-wealth, and other disadvantaged people and communities join the economic mainstream. AEDC provides loans and support to entrepreneurial, innovative business and community endeavors, such as the Humboldt Child Care Stabilization Fund. Head to www.humboldtchildcare.org to learn more about the financial aid available to Humboldt Child Care providers and families, or contact Jade Hoff at [email protected] with any questions.