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How federal aid is offering hope to Georgia’s ailing child care providers

Published: Apr. 16, 2021 at 1:04 PM EDT
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AUGUSTA, Ga. - Georgia’s child-care providers are another industry that’s been hit hard over the past year due to the pandemic.

But nearly $1.6 billion in assistance from the federal government could help them out.

In December, the National Association for the Education of Young Children said one in four child-care centers said if enrollment remained low, they would have to close their doors in the coming months. U.S. Secretary of Labor Martin Walsh says the billions of dollars in funding from the American Rescue Plan will help those centers and their employees.

“This is an opportunity now for us not just to re-open them but to kind of rebuild them and get that infrastructure back up so we can continue to move forward with an equitable recovery across the country,” said U.S. Secretary of Labor Martin Walsh.

The White House announced Thursday that states, tribes, and territories will receive $39 billion to pay for employees, PPE, ventilation systems, and more. Georgia will get nearly $1.6 billion.

Each state will receive funding in two ways - a flexible fund and a stabilization fund.

The administration said the money will:

  • Help hundreds of thousands child care centers and family child care providers make rent or mortgage payments, pay bills, maintain or improve facilities and pay off debt incurred during the pandemic.
  • Pay for costs of safety measures such as masks, physical distancing, improved ventilation and consistent cleaning.
  • Keep workers on payroll, rehire laid-off workers, recruit new workers and increase the pay and benefits of child care workers.
  • Provide child care subsidies to families earning below 85% state median income and families performing essential work.

Walsh says it’ll provide parents who had to leave the workforce to take care of their children a chance to get back to work.

“Two million women across America have been pushed out of the workforce, some of it is due to lack of childcare and also taking care of older adults,” he said. “As these centers open up and have more and more kids in them, parents will have an opportunity to be able to place their kids into childcare.”

Walsh says this money will bring Americans one step closer to recovering from the pandemic.

Walsh also says the money through the American Rescue Plan expands the Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit.

Families with an income below $125,000 can receive $4,000 to $8,000 for two or more children when they file their taxes.

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