If you work in child care and your child care facility needs improvements, you may be eligible for up to $10,000 in forgivable loans through the Humboldt Child Care Stabilization Fund. The fund is also offering eligible new child care employees hiring bonuses up to $1,000.
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 in the future, the Board of Supervisors last 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.
“Local child care experts reported a 30% closure rate during the COVID-19 pandemic, and 6% of Humboldt’s child care facilities closed permanently,” said Steve Madrone, District 5 Supervisor and Chair of the Board. “Child care is a vital part of our community and economy; without it our way of life comes to a standstill. That’s why the Board dedicated such a large share of our federal emergency dollars to this cause. These are the second and third programs, respectively, to be rolled out. The programs will help preschools to upgrade their facilities and help encourage people to begin a career as early childhood educators. I am so thrilled to see the Board’s investment already making a difference in our community.”
The Child Care Accountability Team, comprised of local child care experts and community leaders from organizations including the County of Humboldt, Changing Tides Family Services, First 5 Humboldt, and the Humboldt County Office of Education Local Child Care Planning Council 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 2022, AEDC has provided nearly $655,000 in grants to local child care providers.
Facility Improvement Loan Guarantee Program
The Facility Forgivable Loan Guarantee Program offers child care providers up to $10,000 in small business loans to upgrade their facilities in ways that improve efficiency, safety, and learning. Investments in facility equipment, environment, and modernization are all eligible project plans for receiving the loan.
Payments on these forgivable loans are deferred for six months. Once facility upgrades are completed, the AEDC will use Humboldt Childcare Stabilization funds to write off the loan balance.
For more information on this program and how to apply, please visit humboldtchildcare.org/facilityloans.
Child Care Hiring Bonus
The Child Care Hiring Bonus program is for new child care employees who started working on or after January 1, 2023. These hiring bonuses are aimed at increasing the number of certified providers in Humboldt to create more access to child care, especially in Humboldt’s most rural communities.
To be eligible, employees must work a minimum of 12 hours per week providing direct care to children. This program offers up to $1,000 to full-time employees or $500 for half-time employees. Employees will be eligible for the bonus after they have completed 90 days of employment.
Applications are easy to fill out and are available in both English and Spanish at humboldtchildcare.org/hiring-bonuses. Those who wish to apply should email their completed application to firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject line “Child Care Hiring Bonus Program” or mail a hard copy of the application to the Arcata Economic Development Corporation, 707 K Street Eureka, CA, 95501.
Child Care Retention Bonus Program Update
The Humboldt Child Care Stabilization Fund’s Retention Bonus Program launched in late 2022 and recently closed its first round of funding. This program allows Humboldt County child care business owners and employees operating in the peak of the pandemic to receive a retention bonus of up to $6,000 for remaining open when so many providers were forced to shut down.
“Child care workers tend to be undervalued and are underpaid even though we are considered essential workers,” says Michele Palazzo, head teacher at Beginnings Inc. in Redway. “Receiving a bonus like this not only assisted each of us with our daily lives but was also a necessary boost for morale.”
The second round of applications for this program will open in on Monday, July 10. More information on this program can be found at humboldtchildcare.org/retention-bonus.
Humboldt Child Care Stabilization Fund applicants should be aware that there are tax implications for those who receive funds, and since everyone’s situation is different, awardees are encouraged to work with a tax consultant to understand what this means for them.
For more information on the Humboldt Child Care Stabilization Fund and to learn more about financial aid available to Humboldt County child care providers, please visit humboldtchildcare.org.