Opinion

COVID-19 funding for children

Tuesday, May 12, 2020

It was announced that Iowa will receive over $71 million in federal aid to help PK-12 schools mitigate the effects of COVID-19. The amount is Iowa's share of the more than $13.2 billion emergency relief provided in the elementary and secondary school emergency relief fund within the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, or CARES Act.

"These funds will provide critical support for schools, especially as they develop plans for what a return to learning will look like in the fall," said Iowa Department of Education Director Ann Lebo. "Schools can use this funding to address coronavirus-related challenges, including online learning support, professional development, educational technology, mental health services and services to support students with disabilities."

Of the $71.6 million, 90% will be available to school districts, which will use a portion of the funds to provide services to nonpublic schools in their areas. The remaining funds will be used for state-level educational efforts to address urgent issues caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Allocation of funds will be based on each school's eligibility for Title I, Part A funding. Title I, Part A is a federal program that provides districts with funding based on the percentage of low-income students served by the district.

There will also be money coming in for childcare providers. Iowa received almost $32 million in CARES Act funding to the Childcare Development Fund. DHS released its childcare sustainability plan on how it will give those funds directly to childcare providers during this public health emergency. Unfortunately, Iowa has seen around 1,000 child care centers and homes temporarily close during this time.

This plan is intended to assist childcare providers to remain open or to reopen, and support members of the essential workforce with children. We have prioritized expanding access to childcare this session and know that it is necessary for us to restart the economy and get Iowans back to work.

In developing this sustainability plan, DHS surveyed many child care providers and worked with stakeholders. DHS has also coordinated with the Iowa Economic Development Authority to ensure there is no duplication in assistance with the Community Development Block Grant funding and small business loans.

DHS will soon be providing a monthly stipend of $2,000 to licensed centers and $500 to registered homes each month for April through July. Child care providers that accept Child Care Assistance do not need to do anything extra to receive these payments. If a child care provider does not currently receive CCA payment, DHS will need them to complete the proper form.

There will be an additional $2,000/$500 for childcare providers who give essential employees a 25% discount starting in May.

DHS will also be spending $6 million of the CARES funds for rejuvenation grants to providers that have closed during this time but will reopen with the funds. These centers can receive $1,000 in restart up funds as well as an additional $500 for cleaning and supplies. Child Development Homes can receive $450 in restart up funds as well as an additional $150 for cleaning and supplies.

I hope you all are happy and healthy during these times. As always, please feel free to contact me with any questions or concerns.