Kent County awarded First Steps Kent $450,000 in federal CARES Act dollars to assist licensed child care providers in meeting the needs of new health and safety requirements.
First Steps Kent will provide technical assistance support, like applying for past unemployment benefits, tax preparation, etc. to these providers.
“Too many parents are caught between the need to earn a living and the fear of sending their kids to child care,” said Mandy Bolter, Kent County board of commissioners chair. “We can get our parents back to work and our economy back on track by helping child care providers meet the highest standards of public health and safety.”
Since early March, First Steps Kent has convened a Kent Child Care Crisis Response Team, which worked to identify child care providers, match them with children of essential needs workers, and supply them with personal protection equipment, cleaning supplies and groceries.
First Steps Kent recently surveyed providers on their upcoming needs and, based upon the comments, will use this grant funding to distribute easy-to-clean toys and equipment, new curriculum to accommodate virtual learning, and hygiene and sanitation supplies.
These items will be circulated to providers based on the licensure type — family child care home, group child care home or child care centers — as defined by the state of Michigan.
“Child care providers have been hit hard by this pandemic, and we have had the honor of listening and serving their needs during this time,” said Annemarie Valdez, president and CEO of First Steps Kent. “We know that supporting child care providers means supporting families and our youngest children in Kent County.”
Child care providers who experienced losses due to business interruption as a result of the pandemic may apply for additional grant funding through the Kent County Small Business Recovery Program, and PPE can be obtained through the county’s program.
“We thank our child care providers for their continued dedication to our children and parents during this extraordinary time,” Bolter said. “By providing safe child care centers, parents can return to work, which is another important step in getting our economy back on track.”
Child care providers should visit First Steps Kent’s website to learn more about the program and other available resources.