The Alameda County Board of Supervisors approved $4 million in relief funding for grants to Early Care and Education, or ECE, providers Friday.
The funds will be distributed by the Alameda County Social Services Administration, or ACSSA, and have been sourced from the federal government’s American Rescue Plan Act, or ARPA, according to a press release from the ACSSA.
“A great number of childcare providers shut down during the pandemic, and we recognize that they’re severely impacted, and that in turn, families have been severely impacted due to closures,” said Anissa Basoco-Villarreal, the assistant agency director of the ACSSA’s department of government and community relations.
According to Basoco-Villarreal, the goal of the grant program is to help licensed family care centers and center-based programs with infrastructure or capacity building.
The funds will be distributed in fixed amounts, according to Basoco-Villarreal. She added that large family childcare facilities with a capacity of 12 or more children will receive $3,350, while small family care facilities with a capacity of eight or fewer children will receive $2,350.
Providers can apply for the grant through the Alameda County website using the 2022 Licensed Provider Grant Application, the press release noted. Applicants are required to be licensed and currently caring for children. They will also need to provide a W-9 form and fill out a two-page application, Basoco-Villarreal said.
“In terms of impact, we do expect 1,600 childcare providers to apply within Alameda County and we’re hoping that these providers can recoup a small portion of their lost earnings,” Basoco-Villarreal said.
She added that applications are currently being accepted on a rolling basis, after which they are vetted by the ACSSA’s finance department to ensure that funds can be distributed as quickly as possible.
The grants are the second such round of funding by the ACSSA to the ECE sector in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The agency previously allocated $3 million in funding from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act in conjunction with First 5 Alameda County, an organization that helps fund programs for child development.
“I want to highlight that this is a very innovative use of the federal ARPA funds,” said ACSSA Policy Director Sherry Lynn Peralta. “Alameda County is one of the leading counties in supporting childcare networks, so the $4 million in funding will really enhance, support and foster what is the needs of our childcare community.”
According to Peralta, neighboring counties in the Bay Area have not yet implemented the use of ARPA funds toward ECE relief.
However, both Basoco-Villarreal and Peralta expressed hope that more long-term solutions will be promoted toward the cause in the future.
“The amount is really a small portion of the operating cost of a childcare provider and so that’s where the federal government comes into play in really investing in the needs for providers,” Peralta said.