In 2021, Nebraska child care providers had the opportunity to apply for the Child Care Stabilization Grant to stabilize the child care sector and ensure families would have equal access to high quality care. Fortunately, many Step Up to Quality providers received funds to help improve the quality of their care during an uncertain time.
Marti Spitz, the director at Beginnings Early Development Center in Hastings, is grateful for the support.
“The Child Care Stabilization Grant couldn’t have come at a better time!” Marti said. “After an uncertain year in the child care industry, we are now able to breathe a sigh of relief. This grant allows us to continue providing quality child care, hire and train new staff, cover expenses and give my dedicated team a much-needed retention bonus. In a field often overlooked, the pandemic has reminded us how vital child care is to families, employers and communities.”
Sue Morse, director of the nonprofit Alpine Village Community Daycare in Verdigre, is also thankful for the relief, especially with a center that normally relies on in-person fundraising events.
“With the ability to use some of the funds for payroll, we were able to provide extra educational supplies for the children, acquire necessary cleaning supplies and give tuition relief for some who struggled to pay for care,” Sue said. “At one point, we had to close for a week because too many staff members were sick. The funds allowed us to give families tuition relief during this time and pay staff a portion of their wage as well. Times have been unusually stressful through all of this. I give all the credit to the great team of employees, awesome community support, and all of our children’s families for our ability to stay open and be as successful as we have been.”
While the first grant application period is over, The Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services will be offering a second opportunity to apply for stabilization grants. The second round of applications will be available in spring 2022, targeting those who did not apply during the first application window and potentially including an expanded list of eligible providers, according to the department.
“The responses from providers have been overwhelmingly positive,” said Children and Family Services Director Stephanie Beasley. “From the beginning, we worked for a speedy disbursement of funds and ease of use in applying to ensure providers do not face barriers in receiving the needed funds. I commend the work our staff at the Department of Health and Human Services has done to aid providers in staying open during the pandemic and their commitment to children and families of our child care providers.”
Support for child care providers is always available with Step Up to Quality. Not only does our team alert providers of opportunities like these, we also provide other benefits like professional development and training, a free one-on-one coach, child care subsidy reimbursement and incentive bonuses.