Child-care facilities now are eligible for money to help with the impact of COVID-19 on their business.
Missouri Gov. Mike Parson recently announced that he is setting aside $10 million for emergency relief grants to eligible child-care facilities, according to a press release from the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services. Grant assistance could cover personal protective equipment, additional staffing, overtime and hazard pay or loss of revenue associated with business interruption.
The YWCA's Discovery Childcare Center is planning on applying for the grant. Megan Murray, the center's director, said the money would help build back resources that were lost.
"What the teachers did during this time is they spent a lot of their own time and their own money and their own resources providing things for their classrooms and decorating and getting things together so we could rebuild this curriculum," Murray said. "So when the children did come back after the time that we were closed with the essential functions, they came back into this rich environment."
Murray said in the initial stages of the pandemic, her staff met with a group of directors at the St. Joseph United Way to find solutions for families who were impacted by the pandemic.
"We decided that we were only going to be open to essential families, so health-care providers, police, firefighters, things of that nature," Murray said. "Our enrollment of 40 went down to an enrollment of about nine to 11."
The lower enrollment brought in less tuition, but it allowed the center to stay open and still help the community, according to Murray.
"We had some kids that had to leave as far as when it comes to parents losing their jobs," Brooklyn McGaughy, a preschool teacher at the YWCA's Discovery Childcare Center, said.
Murray said her staff has been concerned about the impact of the pandemic on the children.
"I think that it's super important to understand that the kids are feeling the effects of this pandemic just as much as the adults are, and I think it's really easy for us to look at these businesses and organizations here in town and be concerned that we're not going to survive," Murray said. "At the end of the day, the YWCA is thriving and we want our children to know that our child care center is here for them and our families and our community to know that we're here for them."
According to the release from the Missouri DHSS, child-care providers that are licensed, license-exempt and subsidy (6 or fewer) could be eligible for the grant.
Providers will have to submit requests for reimbursement, which must be approved by the Division of Regulation and Licensure. Those who qualify will receive further instructions on how to apply for these funds.
Applications must be submitted by Nov. 15.