October 17, 2020 7:03:43 PM
Thanks to an emergency relief grant, Mississippi University for Women's Child and Parent Development Center (CPDC) will cover all tuition and CPDC fees for families impacted by COVID-19.
The CPDC recently received $145,606 from the Governor's Emergency Education Relief (GEER) Grant fund. Priority 1 of GEER funding covers essential emergency educational services specifically for the early care and education of very young children age 0-5. The main goal for CPDC during this first round of funding is to assist young families during the pandemic.
"The bulk of our families were hit hard by the pandemic. They were out of work and unpaid and they are still catching up. Then their lower-cost provider didn't reopen when they went back to work, so they had to make hard choices to switch caregivers. We were able to help them as a CCAIR site with their first 90 days of childcare fully paid and now we have GEER to cover the next 90," said Penny Mansell, CPDC director.
CPDC had many families who were covered for 90 days by the Mississippi Child Care Assistance in Response Plan (CCAIR) from the Mississippi Department of Human Services. As the emergency coverage for families expired, Mansell was concerned about how low-income and at-risk families would handle switching back to paying for childcare.
"All of our CPDC families had at least one member of their household that were essential. We surveyed our families and realized that all our families had lost childcare due to mandatory shutdowns and were at risk if there were additional childcare closures," Mansell added.
GEER will cover all tuition and CPDC fees for families who accept the GEER based seat for approximately four months. This means on average CPDC families can save around $2,500 per child. The remainder of the funds will cover materials to improve the quality of care and education offered by CPDC.
"Childcare centers were hit hard during the pandemic. We operate with razor-thin margins already. When we reopened the first of June the landscape of childcare was completely different. The costs and new needs for safety and lower ratios due to COVID-19, along with fewer families, have hit everyone in childcare nationwide," said Mansell.
To qualify, children must be in full-time care and parents should: 1) have lost access to their regular childcare arrangements; 2) cannot afford available childcare within their county; 3) are at risk of experiencing, or have experienced, negative job impacts due to unexpected childcare responsibilities; or 4) are at risk of delaying, or have delayed, a job search due to unexpected childcare responsibilities. Priority is given to children of essential workers.
Based on the information from the survey, CPDC requested funding for 40 GEER seats, the maximum allowed.
The grant was written and will be managed with the assistance of Melinda Lowe, director of Outreach and Innovation at The W. "We are excited to be able to help and serve our CPDC families. The pandemic has put a spotlight on young families and the need for quality childcare. The whole country now knows that childcare is essential both for the workforce and our future," said Lowe.
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