On June 23, Governor Cuomo announced $25 million in child care scholarships for New York's essential workers, available immediately. Health care workers, first responders, grocery store employees, and any other essential worker with income less than 300 percent of the federal poverty level are eligible for scholarships. This allocation of funding from the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act and the American Rescue Plan Act came at an important time - the scholarships available through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act ended on June 28.
Scholarship amounts for children 6 weeks to 12 years old will be determined based on regional market rate and paid directly to a qualified child care provider on a weekly basis. The Office for Children and Family Services (OCFS) put together a Webex step-by-step guide to help families apply. Applications are being accepted on a first-come, first-serve basis until the funding runs out, so families are encouraged to apply as soon as possible.
Children must attend a licensed/registered/permitted or legally exempt program for funding to apply; informal child care arrangements are not eligible for scholarships. If current child care arrangements meet that requirement, no changes need to be made. However, if families need to make new arrangements to utilize the scholarship opportunity, the Child Care Resource and Referral Agencies and QUALITYStarsNY are excellent resources for finding programs. In order to receive payment once a family is approved, the child care provider must register their program through a link provided via email from OCFS. A Webex step-by-step registration guide for providers is available.
In the Governor's announcement, Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul acknowledged the importance and struggle of child care, saying "we can't get to a full economic recovery without addressing the child care crisis that was thrust into the spotlight by the COVID-19 pandemic...New York State is proud to provide child care scholarships to our essential workers so they can access the support and care their families deserve."
The Adirondack Birth to Three Alliance applauds these scholarships and encourages everyone to share this information with families and caregivers of young children.