ARPA Insight Stories: COVID-19 Childcare Stability Grant

Childcare Grant ARPA Insight Story 

Introducing ARPA Insight Stories

The American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) provided $641 million to the City of Baltimore in response to the COVID-19 public health emergency and its negative economic impacts. Mayor Brandon M. Scott established the Mayor’s Office of Recovery Programs to transparently and effectively administer this funding on behalf of the City. Since July 2021, Mayor Brandon M. Scott has allocated over $450 million in American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds. ARPA Insight Stories will share the impact of funded programs through this office. For more details regarding proposals, funded projects, and project progress visit our website.

COVID-19 Childcare Stability Grant

In the wake of the COVID-19 public health emergency, many childcare providers are closing their programs—unable to sustain operations with diminishing enrollment. Other providers are staying open despite the physical risk, to support the needs of working families in their community. The childcare workforce, 40% of which are minorities and almost entirely female, lost more than 150,000 jobs by the end of 2020.

In November 2021, Mayor Brandon M. Scott allocated $2 million to Family League of Baltimore (Family League) to execute the Childcare COVID-19 Stability Grant through the ARPA-funded Economic Recovery Fund.  Family League disbursed these funds to 182 childcare providers impacted by the COVID-19 public health emergency. The grant was established to supplement childcare centers that, in many instances, already operate on thin profit margins and struggle to provide quality services given the requirement to maintain a safe environment and appropriately sized workforce for the safety of the children in their care during the COVID-19 public health emergency.

As of November 2019, regulated early care and education, including public pre-kindergarten programs, was available for approximately 48% of the city’s children under the age of five but only 12% of infants under the age of 2 (2020 Baltimore Early Childhood Care and Education Report). The negative economic impacts of the COVID-19 public health emergency have only exacerbated these numbers. According to Childcarerelief.org, many childcare providers went out of business months into government-mandated shutdowns and others were forced to shut their doors due to increased operating costs and reduced enrollment revenue. 

The impact of ARPA funding stretches beyond the childcare providers and the children they serve. This funding is essential in recovering Baltimore’s economy from COVID-19 by giving parents and guardians an opportunity to return to work while ensuring their children have safe, licensed care. This newsletter will allow you to meet some of the childcare providers that received ARPA funding and are dedicated to nurturing Baltimore’s future.

Meet La-Faye Connor and Lisa Brooks

La-Faye Conner and Lisa Brooks have over 50 years of combined childcare experience. Together, they run Shining Stars Childcare Center in Southwest Baltimore serving children from 2 months old to 12 years old. They applied for the Childcare Stability Grant to assist with payroll, personal protection equipment, and cleaning supplies that assist with cleaning and social distancing protocols. Before the COVID-19 public health emergency, Shining Stars provided care to 22 children. Currently, they serve about 7-8 children and their families. The Childcare Stability Grant allowed for Brooks and Connor to pay staff despite decreases in enrollment. The grant also allowed them to subsidize tuition at the childcare center so that low-income parents did not have to pay out of pocket for childcare costs. “We do it for the children and the families,” Brooks said. “Parents need to get to work. And they need experienced professionals who can care for their children while they are there. This grant allows our doors to stay open and help the families who need it most.”

Meet Martina Johnson

Martina Johnson has been running Tina Tot’s Childcare, a family childcare center, since 2010. Her childcare center has felt the trickle-down effects the COVID-19 public health emergency is having on the families she serves. Parents were unable to pay tuition timely, so bills became a juggling act.

Despite challenges, Johnson has been able to maintain her enrollment levels and serve the same families throughout the pandemic. Her ability to maintain these relationships with her families and students speaks to the importance of childcare providers and how closely interwoven they are with the fabric of our communities. 

Johnson described the grant as a “security blanket” and one of the best things that could have happened to her childcare center. As places for recreation became limited through the COVID-19 public health emergency, the importance to have on-site recreation activities became even more important. Johnson used the ARPA funds she received to purchase a playground for the center.

“The pandemic has brought on some scary and hard times. As a person with pre-existing health conditions, the grant allowed me to purchase the necessary personal protective equipment to keep everyone here safe,” said Johnson. “On behalf of all providers, I want to thank Mayor Brandon M. Scott, The Mayor’s Office of Recovery Programs, and Family League. We really would not be able to survive without grant opportunities like these.”

About Family League of Baltimore

Family League of Baltimore (Family League) is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization and the designated Local Management Board for the City of Baltimore. Since 1991, it has served as an architect of change in Baltimore by promoting data-driven, collaborative initiatives and aligning resources to create lasting outcomes for children, families, and communities. Stewardship, performance, trust, respect, and innovation are the core values that guide its work. In Fiscal Year 2018, Family League provided more than $13 million to 73 funded partners.  Learn more about Family League at www.familyleague.org. Join us on Facebook, InstagramLinkedIn, and Twitter.

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