State makes more funding available for Alaska childcare providers

Since early April, Camp Fire Alaska has offered emergency child-care programs to healthcare workers and first responders. Supplies are sorted into individual bags for each child to limit the spread germs. It plans to follow similar procedures at its summer camps. (Photo courtesy Camp Fire Alaska)

Alaska’s Child Care Program Office will distribute an additional $10.5 million to childcare providers, the Department of Health and Social Services announced in an email Thursday evening.

The additional money is “one-time funding,” according to the announcement. The office said it has distributed all of the federal funds it was allocated and “does not anticipate any additional payments to assist in capacity building.”

This latest round of relief will come from the state’s share of federal CARES Act money.

Childcare providers and advocates have been lobbying the legislature for more funds after an initial round of relief ran out almost immediately, despite the department’s anticipation that it would last for three months.

In April, the Child Care Program Office announced that it would make relief payments to childcare providers to cover losses and expenses for March, April and May.

Alaska’s childcare providers initially requested a total of $9 million. But the office was only allocated $6.4 million in federal CARES Act funds, an amount the state discovered after announcing a plan for monthly payments to providers. The state kicked in funding to cover the initial request.

Thursday’s announcement said the additional $10.5 million in relief for providers would be for both April and May payments.

The office encouraged childcare providers to seek additional assistance from “local municipalities, nonprofit relief through the Alaska Community Foundation, and through the AK CARES grant program.”

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