San Mateo County will provide $2 million in relief grants to support local child care providers who have been financially impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Child Care Relief Fund, which received unanimous support by the county’s Board of Supervisors on Tuesday, aims to help providers within the county remain open, particularly those serving low-income families, and ensure working families have access to quality child care, according to the county.
The $2 million will be allocated from the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES) Funds provided to San Mateo County, which had been suffering a shortage of child care spaces before the pandemic.
The Center for American Progress projects that as many as half of California’s child care programs could permanently close in the coming months, which would “translate to a loss of 19,764 child care spaces in San Mateo County,” according to a county staff report. Before the pandemic, the county already had a shortage of 23,591 child care spaces. The shortfall could inflate significantly with schools continuing distance learning models this fall, the county said.
For months, Redwood City Councilmember Giselle Hale has been working alongside child advocates in the county to realize the Child Care Relief Fund. She cheered the $2 million commitment and thanked the core team that advocated for it, including Heather Brown Hopkins, Dayna Chung, San Mateo Councilmember Amourence Lee, and Christine Padilla. Fifty elected officials signed a petition urging the Board of Supervisors to support the Fund, and over 550 residents signed it, Hale said.
“It’s more than relief, it’s a lifeline to keep our childcare afloat,” the councilmember posted to Facebook.
Under the plan to disburse the funds, licensed child care centers will be eligible for grants of up to $25,000. Family child care homes will be eligible for grants of up to $10,000. Priority funding will go to providers who serve vulnerable families, such as those receiving CalWORKS subsidies, as well as those who participate in county initiatives such as The Big Lift and meet other requirements, the county said.