If you worked in child care or operated a facility during the pandemic, you may be eligible for up to $3,000 in bonus payments through the Humboldt Child Care Stabilization Fund. Child care centers and family child care providers are eligible to receive up to $4,000 or $6,000, depending on type of facility. The payments are part of the Retention Bonus Program, which awards funds to child care business owners and employees who worked directly with children through the COVID-19 pandemic.
Humboldt County’s local child care system was devastated during the pandemic, and to help stabilize the system and ensure families have access to child care going forward, the Board of Supervisors earlier this year unanimously approved a $4.8 million program, funded by the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA), that provides grants, loans and subsidies to local child care providers and families.
“During the pandemic we saw so many caregivers needing to stay home to care for their children because their child care needs could not be met. To determine how we could help our communities navigate the pandemic, we surveyed the business community and heard from many community members, including county employees and essential service providers, and all listed child care as a top priority,” said Virginia Bass, 4th District Supervisor and Chair of the Board, “The Board’s $4.8 million investment to create the Humboldt Child Care Stabilization Fund is so important as it not only supports local child care providers, but it also supports our community and economy. I am so proud these funds are now being distributed in our community and would like to thank our partners for helping us bring this program to fruition.”
The Child Care Accountability Team, comprised of local child care experts and community leaders have developed several programs to distribute these funds in ways that will make a lasting impact on Humboldt County’s child care industry, the essential people who work in the industry, and the local economy. Grant funds are administered by the Arcata Economic Development Corporation (AEDC), and since September, AEDC has provided nearly $500,00 in grants to local child care providers.
“Child care providers who worked through the pandemic did so in a time that was particularly difficult for them. Besides the developmental challenges of social distancing and masking with toddlers and preschoolers, most centers had to significantly cut the number of children they could serve, impacting their already small income,” said Susan Seaman, program director for AEDC. “During the pandemic, we saw a 30% closure rate of available child care, with at least 6% closing permanently. This grant is to try to support those who held on and are going to continue to serve our workforce.”
Retention Bonuses For Employees
Any individual who worked in child care or operated a facility between July 1, 2021, and plans to remain in operation until at least June 30, 2023, is eligible for the program. Bonus amounts will be based on the hours you worked during the operation period.
- Full-Time Employees (21-40 hours/week) - $3,000
- Half-Time Employees (12-20 hours/week) - $2,000
Payments for employees will be made in two installments, one for the period between July 1, 2021, and June 30, 2022. The second installment will be made following the end of the period between July 1, 2022, and June 30, 2023.
Retention Bonuses For Centers & Family Child Care Providers
Each licensed child care center or family facility that can show that they were open between July 1, 2021, and June 30, 2023, will be eligible for the retention bonus. Bonus amounts are based on the size and type of facility and are as follows:
- Child Care Centers - $6,000
- Large Family Facility (up to 14 children) - $5,000
- Small Family Facility (up to 8 children) - $4,000
The bonus will be paid in two installations, the first within 60 days of receiving the completed application. The second will be following the end of the eligibility period which is June 30, 2023.
There are still Bonus Retention Program funds available, and providers and caregivers are encouraged to apply. Applications are easy to fill out and are available in both English and Spanish at humboldtchildcare.org. Applicants should be aware that there are tax implications for those who receive Retention Bonus Program funds, and since everyone’s situation is different, awardees are encouraged to work with a tax consultant to understand what this means for them.
The next local child care grant program to be implemented is a $10,000 forgivable loan program which will allow providers to upgrade child care facilities. This program will open in January 2023, and the county will make an announcement when the application process begins. For more information, please visit humboldtchildcare.org.