Federal COVID aid program sending up to $55 million to Georgia child care

Georgia's child care providers could get a second payment from the federal CARES Act to help offset COVID-19's financial fallout.

Georgia child care providers could soon receive $240 per child from CARES Act funding, federal aid meant to relieve financial pain caused by the coronavirus.

Starting Nov. 16, all licensed Georgia child care providers can apply for a second round of Short Term Assistance Benefit for Licensed Entities payments through the Georgia Department of Early Care and Learning.

In the first round of payments, nearly 3,800 providers received more than $38.8 million in funding for employee salaries, substitute teachers, tuition relief for families, lease or mortgage payments and supplies.

The state’s department that oversees child care providers estimates this round of payments could mean $55 million to offset cash crunches caused by COVID-19.

“I did get it last time, and if it happens again, it’s going to be phenomenal,” said Shenette Zachary, owner of Star Light Learning Academy in Kennesaw.

Georgia’s child care facilities have largely remained open during the pandemic to serve the children of essential workers in health care, government services and other fields where people need to report to work. However, with more families staying at home, child care attendance has significantly declined. About 3,322 of Georgia’s 4,449 licensed child care providers are now open.

Other working parents who have had their hours cut or otherwise lost income during the pandemic are struggling to afford child care.

Zachary said she is hoping the federal assistance passed on through the state agency will allow her to keep her employees working the hours they need.

“We need equipment and things like that, and I need help with the staff. I really want to keep the staff, and I’m not able to give everybody 40 hours, but this will help me be able to keep my staff, give them the incentives and the hours, I don’t want to lose any of them.”

If there is money left over, Zachary said she is in the market for more laptops and other STEM-related gadgets and toys for the kids.

The payments are to be based on attendance with daycare providers receiving $240 for each child who received in-person care for at least one day in October.

“We know that family child care learning homes and child care learning centers in Georgia are struggling as a result of COVID-19,” said department Commissioner Amy Jacobs. “To expedite these payments, we are developing a simple application that will ask for attendance by age and by program, including the (Childcare and Parent Services) program and Georgia’s Pre-K Program.”

Providers can apply through Dec. 2, and payments are set to begin after the application period closes.

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