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Lillian Boyd, Dana Point Times

The Orange County Board of Supervisors has allocated an additional $5.1 million in CARES Act emergency funding to support licensed Orange County family child care homes and center-based child care programs—bringing the total to $10.1 million to help meet the profound need in the community.

Grant organizers received applications from 843 child care providers for the initial $5 million CARES Act grant, which allowed for only 350 applicants to receive funds. Now, with the influx of additional funds, it will be possible for all 843 applicants to receive financial assistance.

“The large number of applicants serves as a testament to the struggle facing local providers due to challenges posed by the pandemic,” said First 5 Orange County President and Chief Executive Officer Kim Goll. “This money will help care providers keep their doors open and allow them to continue serving Orange County’s children and families, but it does not solve the problems the industry was facing prior to the pandemic.”

In a recent survey of child care providers by First 5 Orange County, 63% said they would have to close within the next six months without additional assistance. As the recent Orange County Child Care Landscape Analysis points out, the pandemic has only deepened the crisis. Nearly half of Orange County’s child care providers closed their programs from mid-March to early June, then began reopening with new requirements and reduced capacities to maintain social distancing guidelines.

The survey also showed that 44% had to furlough or lay off staff, and all respondents reported additional funds were needed to remain open, including for staff salaries, cleaning supplies, and facility charges. Half of the survey respondents are minority-owned businesses.

The addition of $5.1 million, sponsored by Supervisor Doug Chaffee and Supervisor Andrew Do, will be distributed by Charitable Ventures to qualified early care and education providers in Orange County. Funds are being disbursed on a first-come, first-served basis to eligible licensed or licensed-exempt child care providers in Orange County to pay staff, purchase supplies, help cover mortgage and rental costs, business resilience and environmental improvements for children’s learning spaces. Grant organizers expect to award funds to hundreds of child care centers, family homes, and group care centers.

“We received incredibly high turnout in the number of applicants for the Orange County Child Care Funding Program, which underscores the need to support child care providers during the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Chaffee.

Eligible providers will be notified and funding will begin to be processed on Nov. 19, continuing through Dec. 15 until all funds are expended. All funds must be spent on approved COVID-19 related expenses by Dec. 30, 2020.

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