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January 15, 2021
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Child Care Resiliency and childcare programs

November 13, 2020

Child Care Resiliency Fund Launches $1.1 million fund to help keep childcare programs open First 5 Sonoma County, Community Foundation Sonoma County and The City of Santa Rosa have collaborated to launch a new, $1.1 million Child Care Resiliency Fund. The fund will provide direct financial support to childcare programs in Sonoma County that have been adversely impacted by COVID-19 through one-time grants to licensed and license- exempt childcare providers that meet specific eligibility criteria. 

“This is an incredibly hard time to be a parent. With kids home from school, and many child care centers closed, parents are facing impossible choices between working and staying home to keep their kids safe and on track with distance learning,” explains Angie Dillon Shore, Executive Director of First 5 Sonoma County, “offering direct support to local child care businesses is key in supporting Sonoma County’s economic recovery and stability by ensuring families can return to work.” 

With $1.1 million committed to the Child Care Resiliency Fund, First 5 launched a grants program this week aimed at helping ensure that child care businesses remain open or can re- open in the midst of the COVID-19 public health emergency in order to successfully and safely serve working families with young children and families affected by school closures. 

Funding for this program comes from a blend of philanthropic dollars (the Community Foundation’s Resilience Fund), public funding for early childhood (Prop. 10 funding through First 5) and federal funding intended to address the local economic impacts of COVID-19 (CARES Act funding through the City of Santa Rosa). 

The Child Care Crisis in Sonoma County 

COVID-19 has had a severe, negative impact on childcare programs nationwide, statewide and locally, many of which have either closed their doors or are on the brink of closure. Since March 17, 2020, approximately 25% of home-based providers and half of center-based childcare facilities in Sonoma County are closed. A total of 17 facilities have permanently closed and will not re-open. 

With the 2020-2021 school year underway, families are greatly challenged with new barriers in accessing care during an even more critical time. As of October 1, 2020, Sonoma County’s providers of after-school childcare are able to serve only 20% of their pre-COVID capacity, creating an additional challenge for working families with school-age children who would have traditionally relied on school settings as a dependable source of care and supervision. Within an already fragile and volatile sector, childcare providers are now tasked with taking on additional responsibilities. Childcare providers are experiencing a shift in demand for school- aged care as 100% distance learning has become a reality for children and families. For providers, challenges with distance learning may include access to modern technology, internet connectivity and bandwidth and overall support navigating the digital world. Providers may also experience challenges with adequate classroom setting or space within their homes to facilitate distance learning and one-on-one support. 

“Sonoma County’s economy relies on a healthy childcare infrastructure in order to thrive. Without an adequate supply of childcare, many parents and caregivers in Sonoma County will leave the workforce, resulting in billions in lost wages and local economic activity,” says Dillon- Shore. 

The Grants Program 

Childcare providers can check their eligibility and apply for grant funding online through the First 5 website. Grant applications will be accepted through December 1, 2020 with the first round of funding going out by December 22. 

For more information about eligibility and to apply, please visit: 

https://first5sonomacounty.org/funding-opportunities/resiliency-fund/