The Department of Family Services (DFS) has released a comprehensive plan regarding the use of approximately $61 million one-time federal stimulus dollars from the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act (CRRSAA) and the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) to support and bolster community child care services.
“Understanding access to child care is key to family and economic stability, our agency initiated a phased strategy to align the varying federal fund requirements with Wyoming’s specific needs that have been identified by system partners. Our goal is to determine the best way to leverage these dollars for the stabilization and long-term success of the child care sector,” said DFS Director, Korin Schmidt.
In 2020, DFS received roughly $8.2 million through various federal funding streams to meet the emergency needs of child care providers exacerbated by COVID-19. Those funds were utilized to assist in the stabilization of income for child care providers so services could continue for families.
Additional one-time funding for child care is part of Governor Gordon’s statewide Proposals for the Future - Wyoming’s Strategy to Survive, Drive and Thrive presented to the Joint Appropriations Committee in June. Proposed supports include four main focus areas: enhanced child care assistance, grants, information technology and training.
The Plan reflects comments from the Early Childhood State Advisory Council, child care providers, early childhood educators and community partners. It compliments work currently underway by the Preschool Development Grant which aims to provide high-quality early childhood care and education experiences for Wyoming children.
DFS is proposing to use child care assistance funds to promote access to quality child care for low-income families who are employed, actively seeking employment, receiving training or attending school. Additionally, a temporary increase in the current subsidy rate is included in the plan to stabilize income for families and struggling child care providers.
Child care stabilization grants will target access and quality of child care in Wyoming communities by investing in existing facilities, supporting the start up of new facilities based on community need, and assisting with the recruitment and retention of staff. DFS will be working with local governments, communities, and partners to better understand community specific needs for care and align grant opportunities with the feedback provided. Funds will also be used to improve staff training and promote quality care and learning for Wyoming’s youngest citizens.
The proposed improvements to child care data systems and processes are specific interventions to improve efficiencies for child care providers and families across the state. These efficiencies include implementing and enhancing online systems to expedite staff onboarding processes and allow for more reliable data collection.
DFS Director Schmidt said, “DFS will continue to work with child care providers, early childhood educators and community partners to make data-informed decisions about long-term investments in the vital child care system.”
The full Child Care Spending Plan can be accessed on the DFS website at https://dfs.wyo.gov/providers/child-care/. Public input is welcomed, and comments can be provided to Nichole Anderson at [email protected] by Sept. 8, 2021.