More Kansas families will be eligible for financial assistance; new round of sustainability grants support childcare providers
TOPEKA – Governor Laura Kelly today announced that, in an effort to improve access to quality, affordable childcare, more Kansas families will now be eligible to take advantage of the Hero Relief Child Care Assistance Program.
First implemented at the beginning of the pandemic to assist essential workers with the costs of childcare, this new round of assistance allows all Kansas workers to take advantage of expanded financial eligibility guidelines.
“Kansas has experienced a record amount of economic activity this year. In order to support our growing economy, Kansans in the workforce need reliable access to quality childcare,” Governor Kelly said. “Expanding the Hero Relief Program helps businesses and parents, and ensures children, our most precious resource, have opportunities to develop in nurturing environments.”
Under the new guidelines, any Kansas worker who makes 250% or less of the federal poverty level is now eligible for childcare assistance. The expansion also includes waiving the family share deduction for essential workers and reducing the deduction for all others. Families also will see an expanded eligibility period from six to 12 months.
The income eligibility chart provides monthly income guidelines for the program:
HH Size ... 250% FPL
2 ... $3,630
3 ... $4,575
4 ... $5,520
5 ... $6,468
This program is available to families who need child care for employment as long as the adults in the household are employed an average of 20 hours a week. Some education or training activities also may be supported under the traditional Child Care Assistance Program.
“I am pleased that more families can now take advantage of the Hero Relief Program,” Department for Children and Families Secretary Laura Howard said. “Parents have faced additional challenges because of the pandemic, and it was important to me that we provide meaningful assistance to families.”
Governor Kelly also announced today that DCF, in partnership with Child Care Aware of Kansas, is launching the Child Care Sustainability Grant program to aid child care providers in meeting the costs of operating their business. Nearly $50 million will be distributed through the program, with grant awards ranging from $5,000 for family child care programs to $60,000 for large centers.
This support comes at a critical time for Kansas providers. Many have struggled to stay afloat amid increased costs to provide child care in line with CDC COVID-19 mitigation guidelines and, in many cases, experienced a decrease in revenue due to illness. This funding is intended to give them the assistance needed to continue providing the best quality care for the children in their programs.
“At Child Care Aware of Kansas, we take pride in our ability to support child care providers and are very excited to see this funding become available,” Kelly Davydov, Executive Director, said. “Child care is essential for a thriving Kansas economy. When child care providers operate a safe, happy, nurturing environment, families can feel at peace knowing that their child is in good hands.”
“This grant program is the perfect example of how we can use federal relief dollars to support small businesses,” Governor Kelly said. “I want to thank Child Care Aware of Kansas for partnering in continued efforts to boost access to child care and strengthen our economy.”
The Child Care Sustainability grant application will be available via the Child Care Aware of Kansas website starting July 1, and must be received by July 30, 2021 at 5:00 p.m. All child care facilities that are licensed by and in good standing with the Kansas Department of Health and Environment are eligible to apply. Funds may be used for any normal operational expenses, additional expenses the child care program has due to meeting CDC guidance for mitigating the spread of COVID-19, and other activities necessary to maintain or resume the operation of programs.
Funding for these programs comes from federal relief dollars included in the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act and the American Rescue Plan.