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Local child care programs looking for solutions ahead of loss of federal funds

St. Joseph News-Press - 9/17/2023

Sep. 16—American Rescue Plan Act funding for child care services is set to cut off at the end of the month, and programs across the U.S. are bracing for impact, with St. Joseph groups being no exception.

The Century Foundation projects that 70,000 child care services in the U.S will likely close due to the ARPA funding not being extended at the end of this month. In addition, the state of Missouri is projected to see 10,964 kids lose child care and 184 child care programs are expected to close.

"It's not only impacting our school systems, it's impacting all of these working families that are also now going to have to try to come up with money," said Brea Vaughn, center manager at South 9th Head Start. "They didn't have in the first place to be able to continue to go to work while sending their kids to child care school or whatever the situation may be".

The Head Start program through the Community Action Partnership uses federal funding for its paycheck protection program, which helps child care providers with payroll costs like benefits, mortgage and rent. This funding may help bridge the gap when the ARPA funding expires.

"There are different areas where all of those funds were not expended and so I think reallocating some of that to child care is still an option, still a possibility," CAP Executive Director Whitney Lanning said.

Lanning also said that if issues should continue to rise, community members should contact local legislators like state Rep. Brenda Shields, who Lanning said has been a champion for child care education and has experience in the industry.

Nationally, Sens. Patty Murray and Bernie Sanders, along with other democratic lawmakers, emphasized the need for ongoing support for the nation's child care sector, introducing Wednesday the Child Care Stabilization Act.

"Our bill will provide $16 billion in mandatory funding each year over the next five years for the Child Care Stabilization grant program that has proven so successful and so essential for keeping the system afloat and working parents, the child care they need," Murray said in a press conference.

While some parents may be stressed for the coming months about costs and accessibility, Vaughn said teachers are here to help and everyone should rely on their village.


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