Like so many businesses, San Diego’s childcare providers have been hit hard by the economic fallout of the coronavirus pandemic. Now, some relief is coming in the form of a new grant program.
The San Diego County Board of Supervisors unanimously voted to distribute $25 million in CARES Act funding to eligible childcare providers in San Diego County this fall. To distribute the funds, San Diego County has partnered with the San Diego Foundation, the YMCA of San Diego County and Child Development Associates.
On Thursday, leaders from that coalition will start getting the word out about how childcare providers can apply for the Childcare Provider Grant Program.
San Diego County childcare providers will be able to start applying for the grants starting Monday, Aug. 24. The applications are available here.
Childcare providers will have 10 days to submit the information required for funding. They can apply for grants for support for staffing, supplies, mortgage and rental assistance, business resilience and capital improvements for outdoor areas, a press release said.
Although childcare providers have been deemed essential workers and have been allowed to stay open during the pandemic – with restrictions, of course – the businesses have had to undergo a lot of changes to keep up with new COVID-related health and safety measures.
Some of those changes mean not being able to care for as many children as before, in order to keep groups smaller and safer. That means less revenue coming in. At the same time, many childcare providers have had to invest in PPE as well as more cleaning supplies.
The YMCA of San Diego County works with childcare providers, many of which operate out of their homes, to help them get all the necessary training and certifications to run their businesses.
YMCA of San Diego County CEO Baron Herdelin-Doherty said many of these local childcare providers could really benefit from the grants. The funds, in some cases, may even help some of these businesses keep their doors open as families continue to seek safe childcare during the pandemic.
“They’re all over the county, so we need to mare sure that they have the resources to provide the very best care, structures and standards that they have to do,” Herdelin-Doherty told NBC 7. “These extra dollars will help boost the services to provide and hopefully people will take advantage of the service.”
NBC 7 spoke Thursday with Barbara Richardson, owner and operator of Children of Life Preschool Academy in Chula Vista, one of the many local childcare providers deeply impacted by the pandemic.
When the stay-at-home order went into effect in San Diego County in mid-March, Richardson said her enrollment dropped by 90% -- from 65 kids enrolled daily to only eight. Many of Richardson’s kids have parents who are essential workers.
“I stayed open. I did not close. I refused to close because I know that even those 8 parents – they needed care,” she told NBC 7.
Over the past few months, enrollment at her childcare business has increased to 43 kids, but she’s expanded her services to include care for school-age children, ages 6 to 12. Her facility plans to assist those kids with distance learning, starting Aug. 31.
But every day in business costs money.
“We are trying to do everything that we can to keep the bills paid. You know, it’s hot right now so gas and electric bills are going up as well,” Richardson explained. “We need to keep it cool for our children, so that’s pretty costly. At the same time, there’s been a huge reduction in income, due to the decrease in the numbers of children.”
By this time each year, Richardson said her childcare business typically has a waiting list. Today, her staff is slim and they’re just trying to keep business going.
She plans to apply for the grant offered through the local program.
“It would mean the world to me because, again, we’re struggling,” she said. “We’re struggling every month, but I have to keep my doors open for my families; I have to keep my doors open for our children. This gives them a place of normalcy.”