For essential workers who are strapped with paying childcare fees for older children out of school, help is now available through funds from the Child Care Resource Network.

Kaley Donaldson, communications specialist with the network, said the agency and the WNY Women’s Foundation “applauds the action of the Cuomo administration in developing a plan to provide child care to (income eligible) essential workers at no cost.”

Sheri Scavone, executive director of the WNY Women’s Foundation, added, “This allocation of funding for child care for essential workers comes to the state from the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (the CARES Act), which has provided New York with $163.6 million in emergency relief to the child care system. The WNY Women’s Foundation is proud to partner with Child Care Resource Network as part of our front-line advocacy work to reimagine quality, affordable and accessible child care.”

Scavone said the agency was “thrilled to see the Cuomo administration take the first step in developing a long-term plan.”

She said essential workers using a regulated child care provider will receive a scholarship for the cost of care as long as the funds to support it are available. All licensed and regulated providers who are caring for essential workers’ children are able to participate in the new program.

Earlier this week, Donaldson said the agency has been taking applications for the program since late last week.

“(Parents or guardians) just have to fill out the paperwork (online) and as soon as we get it, we respond to them within 24 hours on whether or not it’s been approved,” Donaldson said. “Anybody who is in an occupation that is deemed essential in a list that the state has, those are the people who are eligible for this funding. As that list expands, the pool of people eligible for it will expand as well.”

She said the state has made a big push through the media, as well as the Child Care Resource & Referral (CCR&R) agencies, child care providers and local employers to provide the information to essential workers.

Donaldson said the rationale behind the funding is that access to affordable and safe child care is a barrier for working parents during the best of times, and even more so during a crisis.

She said the state’s plan will ensure that the workforce that is needed to protect and care for the public during the pandemic have the child care that allows them to continue to serve their communities.

“A lot of the parents of school-age children are normally not paying for child care,” she explained. “They’re struggling right now because all of a sudden they have this new added expense of child care.”

Donaldson said the funding is guaranteed for at least the next couple of weeks until the state can re-evaluate and adjust the program. She also noted the funds go directly and regularly to the child care provider through direct deposits to their bank account.

“The parents and providers fill out their forms and there is an employer form that needs to be filled out just so we can verify they’re an essential worker,” she added.

A local child care provider, Rebecca Bean of Jelly Bean Daycare in Olean, noted local parents can find out more about the scholarships by visiting the Office of Children and Family Services website at https://ocfs.ny.gov.

“On the main page, scroll down and there is an article in the news section about the child care scholarships,” Bean explained. “In the article there is a link for parents to fill out an application for the scholarships. It is an online application.”

Bean said once the online application is completed, it will end up at the local CCR&R, which is ACCORD agency for parents in Cattaraugus and Allegany counties. She said the link for the scholarship is also listed on accordcorp.org under the services tab and child care. The site has a link for parents to click on to go to the application.

(Contact reporter Kate Day Sager at kates_th@yahoo.com. Follow her on Twitter, @OTHKate)

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