The Wolf administration said Monday that it’s directing $53 million in federal aid to child care centers across the state as they weather the COVID-19 pandemic.
Gov. Tom Wolf, joined by Pennsylvania Human Services Secretary Teresa Miller, and others, announced the disbursement during a visit to a child care center at the offices of the Pennsylvania State Employees Credit Union in suburban Harrisburg.
“This funding will help child care providers bridge the gap until their clientele returns,” Wolf said in a statement released by his office. “It will also help them with any increased costs that have been incurred due to the pandemic – things like cleaning and sanitization, which will help keep the 386,000 children who attend our licensed child care facilities safe, as well as the workers who do so much to care for them.”
The state has already distributed $51 million in federal CARES Act funding to eligible childcare providers, with another $116 million to be distributed in the coming months. All told, the state will direct $220 million in assistance to childcare providers, the administration said.
The money is being distributed through the Human Services Department’s Office of Child Development and Early Learning (OCDEL), which licenses child care providers across Pennsylvania. The office also is working with Penn State Harrisburg’s Institute of State and Regional Affairs to study the challenges facing providers as they reopen during the pandemic. Its results will be used to determine how to drive out additional aid, officials said Monday.
Statewide, 65 of the 7,107 state’s licensed childcare providers have closed as a result of the pandemic, the administration said.
“While we do not know how this pandemic will look in a week, a month, or a year, we know that a healthy, robust child care system will be critical to weather the economic recovery ahead,” Miller said in a statement. “This study will capture experiences and challenges child care providers have endured since COVID-19 arose in Pennsylvania and will allow us to direct additional funds how and where our child care providers need them most.”