Legislature’s emergency response bill includes $30 million in child care grants

On Thursday, the Legislature passed a budget bill that provides $330 million in additional resources to address the COVID-19 pandemic and the unemployment, human services, and public safety investments needed across the state. Included in the bill is $30 million for grants to child care providers. The grants are funded through the Department of Human Services but will be administered by Child Care Aware, the state’s child care resource and referral agency.

Eligible providers include both family care providers and child care centers. An eligible provider can receive up to $4,500 per month, with an additional $1,000 if it serves children during nonstandard hours, whose first language is not English, or who have special needs. Eligible programs that are licensed to serve more than 14 children may receive an additional monthly grant not to exceed $15,500. 

Programs that receive a grant are required to re-enroll children who left the child care provider in response to the public health emergency once the emergency is lifted. They are also required to serve children whose parents are not essential workers if the provider has capacity.

Child Care Aware is also required to distribute grants in a way that achieves regional balance and equitable distribution throughout the state and among provider types.

Additional funding is coming into the child care pipeline via the federal stimulus package. Included in the package approved by the Senate and awaiting final action by the House is $3.5 billion for the Child Care and Development Block Grant. These dollars are intended to help stabilize the child care market, which has seen a significant decrease in enrollment due to the social distancing orders enacted by states, including Minnesota.