Funding is now available to help licensed child care centers cover costs associated with the COVID-19 outbreak and to cover child care costs for some essential workers in Arkansas, the Arkansas Department of Human Services (DHS) has announced.

“Safe and high-quality child care is critically important to families trying to get back to work and to our economy as a whole,” said DHS Deputy Director for Children and Families Keesa Smith. “This funding will help address the safety and economic issues for child care that have arisen as a result of this pandemic, and the enhanced safety procedures will help assure parents that we at DHS are committed to protecting children.”

The DHS Division of Child Care and Early Childhood Education (DCCECE) issued additional pandemic procedures to licensed child care providers today aimed at stopping the spread. The guidance follows Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Arkansas Department of Health recommendations and requires screening for all individuals (staff, children, and families) entering a facility and prior to transporting; limiting group size to 10 or less, including staff and children; requiring staff to wear masks; serving individual rather than family style meals, and more frequent handwashing and sanitation.

These precautions are in addition to regular licensing requirements related to infectious disease.

The DHS has outlined how federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act funding of over $41 million in Child Care Development Block Grant funds will be used to:

Support licensed providers so they can remain open or re-open as appropriate through continued supplemental voucher payments through August, to coincide with school start dates. -- Estimated $15 million.

Child care providers will get an additional $10 per infant/toddler, $7 per preschool, and $5 school-age/out of school time care for children receiving federal child care assistance.

One-time supplemental maintenance payment for licensed providers open March 13 and that have remained open through May.

Funding is based on licensed capacity and quality-level programs.

Providers do not need to take any action. DHS will process and send payments for all providers open during this time. Re-opening providers should contact their licensing specialist.

Help licensed child care providers cover costs of cleaning and sanitizing facilities to ensure safety and meet required pandemic protocols. – Estimated $8 million

Reimbursement for actual costs of deep cleaning and sanitization after programs are advised by the Arkansas Department of Health that they must close.

One-time payment for so centers can meet new pandemic procedures for safe operations including social distancing requirements in the building and while offering transportation, masks for staff, and screening processes.

Funding is based on licensed capacity and quality level-programs and will be available for licensed providers who remain open or re-open between May 4 and August 31, 2020.

Providers should contact their licensing specialist to make this request.

Provide short-term child care assistance to essential workers. Federal requirements made it clear that essential workers should be able to access this support regardless of income (as funds allow). The funds would be payments to a qualified child care provider that accepts vouchers – not to the workers themselves. – Estimated $18 million

Essential personnel, under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, includes but is not limited to emergency responders, health care providers, public health personnel, manufacturing workers, sanitation workers, child care and early childhood staff, and individuals involved in the food supply chain during pandemic.

The vouchers will be paid during the public health emergency. Payments would cover the full cost of child care during that time as funding allows.

Applications will be processed and approved in the order received and assistance will be provided on a first-come, first-serve basis.

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