Childcare commissioners

Chester County Commissioners announce $15 million in childcare grants for families and childcare businesses impacted by COVID-19. Pictured left to right are Chester County Commissioners Michelle Kichline and Josh Maxwell, Downingtown Area School District Superintendent Dr. Emilie Lonardi, Chester County Commissioners’ Chair Marion Moskowitz and Chester County Intermediate Unit Executive Director Dr. George Fiore.

WEST CHESTER — Chester County Commissioners have announced two significant grant programs that will provide financial relief to Chester County families requiring childcare services and to childcare providers that have experienced costs related to COVID-19 protection measures. Funds totaling $10 million have been approved for childcare subsidies for families throughout Chester County, and $5 million has been apportioned for the county’s childcare provider needs.

County Commissioners Marian Moskowitz, Josh Maxwell and Michelle Kichline approved a resolution authorizing the Chester County Intermediate Unit (CCIU) to administer the combined $15 million in funds. The funds will be available immediately and through to the end of 2020 to eligible county families and to eligible childcare providers.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has created a stressful time for so many parents, and financial worries have further added to the stress,” said Chester County Commissioners’ Chair Marian Moskowitz. “This fund will make a tremendous difference to families in Chester County who have had to find money to pay for childcare services that they may never have needed, were it not for COVID-19.”

Both the $10 million for childcare subsidies and the $5 million for childcare providers is funded from CARES Act funding acquired by Chester County government. The Commissioners have appointed the Chester County Intermediate Unit (CCIU) to administer both grant programs because of the organization’s experience in administration of the Commonwealth’s Child Care Subsidy program. The Chester County Department of Human Services will coordinate the program on behalf of the County.

“I am extremely grateful that the County Commissioners have approved this distribution and that we can put the CARES Act dollars to work for our students,” said CCIU Executive Director Dr. George F. Fiore. “In a time that has proven to be extremely challenging for many local families, it is vital that we put the needs and well-being of our students first and provide this much needed relief to the hardworking families in Chester County.”

Dr. Emilie M. Lonardi, Downingtown Area School District Superintendent, shared the same sentiments as Fiore, “The childcare funding provided by the Chester County Commissioners Office will be instrumental in easing the financial burden the pandemic has caused for both our families and staff. We are grateful to our Commissioners for valuing education, for protecting the health and well-being of our school communities and for their continued commitment to serving our great County.”

The resolution signed by the County Commissioners notes that the $10 million in childcare subsidy funds will be provided to low- and moderate-income families. Guidelines for eligibility include annual income limits, residency in Chester County, reasons for the childcare need, and is open to families with children from birth to age 12. Children with disabilities may be eligible through age 21.

“This subsidized childcare program helps Chester County families pay their childcare fees,” said County Commissioner Josh Maxwell. “Families’ lives have been turned upside down because of this pandemic with daily routines so different and worrying. Through the CCIU, we will pay the childcare costs directly to the childcare program, helping take away at least one of the major COVID-19 pressures on families with young children – childcare bills.”

Understanding that the $10 million childcare subsidy grant program may result in increased childcare enrollments in Chester County, the Commissioners established a $5 million fund to help childcare providers purchase additional personal protective equipment, make needed changes to their facilities, and provide relevant training and professional development for staff.

Chester County Commissioner Michelle Kichline noted, “Providing funding for families to help pay for childcare is crucial, but so too is making sure that the childcare businesses can withstand the cost of any changes needed to be made to keep children healthy and safe. Now, more than ever, I appreciate the service that childcare owners and staff provide, and am pleased that the County can help in this very practical way.”

Funds for both the $10 million childcare subsidy grant program and the $5 million childcare provider grant program are available up to Dec. 30, 2020, and will be awarded while funds last. For more information and the application for childcare subsidies can be found at www.cciu.org/covid-childcare or by calling the Chester County Intermediate Unit at 484-753-4305 between the hours of 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Grants for childcare are part of a major $28 million COVID-19 funding program approved by the Chester County Commissioners. Last week the County announced a $3.5 million Restore Chester County: Nonprofit Innovation & Resiliency Fund made available to Chester County nonprofits, and later this week the County will provide details of a $10 million funding program for Chester County’s public schools.

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