Walz announces $56.6M plan to help support child care providers amid COVID-19

Tuesday, Gov. Tim Walz announced a plan to distribute $56.6 million in CARES Act funding for child care providers.

During the news conference, Walz said the money will come from the established COVID-19 relief fund.

Walz said the funding will be made available to roughly 6,000 home care providers and about 1,100 center care providers.

According to state officials, home care providers will receive up to $1,200 per month and center care providers will receive up to $8,500 per month, based on the number of eligible applicants.

Officials said eligibility requires providers to have been open and caring for children as of June 15 and through the duration of the three-month grant period, revenue losses or increased costs related to COVID-19, availability of financial incentives for staff, and licenses in good standing.

"Minnesota child care providers have gone above and beyond to support children and families during these unprecedented months," Lt. Gov. Peggy Flanagan said in a statement. "To meet the great need, and despite great challenges, providers have stayed open, including 90% of family providers. Our response to COVID-19 could not have happened without their support. They care for our littlest Minnesotans, and we should support them in return."

Learning Garden Center Director Angela Kapp said, as a result of COVID-19 and its effects, attendance at her center was down to a quarter of its normal attendance by mid-March, staff layoffs took place and the center lost about $100,000 in revenue since March.

"We realized we need to have a plan for this uncertainty, we’re not going to be able to predict our staffing, we’re not going to be able to predict the number of children in attendance," Kapp said. "This grant that Gov. Walz is proposing will really help us … make sure we have the staff that we need, that we can continue to grow and serve the families in our community."

Cisa Keller, the senior vice president for early childhood quality development at Think Small, said the additional funding would help progress made so far to support child care providers in Minnesota.

"We have been, really, a leader in the nation in trying to support our child care community over the last four months," Keller said, stating the peacetime emergency grants helped support many care providers across the state.

Walz said best practices to protect students and teachers in the midst of the pandemic as the upcoming school year approaches remain under discussion.

"The key to parents being secure about taking their children either to a child care center or back to school is the belief that that child will be safe and I think the same thing with teachers, that they know they’ll be safe," Walz said. "We’re still trying to figure out what that looks like."

Walz said state leaders are hoping to have updated guidance by July 15.

View the full news conference via the player below: