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First payment childcare payments set to roll in

The Department of Children and Families (DCF), has awarded just over $32 million to 2,367 early care and education providers, through the first period of the Child Care Counts: COVID-19 Emergency Payment Program. The application window for the second period of funding is now open.

“I want to thank the thousands of early care, and education providers and educators, who stepped up in this time of crisis,” said DCF secretary Emilie Amundson. “Unfortunately, many of those folks are struggling in the wake of the pandemic – with many considering permanent closures. Our payment program is a key part of making sure families have access to safe, high-quality and affordable childcare.”

The first round of payments, in the amount of $32.21 million, covers child care provider activity from March 12 to April 11. Eligible child care providers who applied during the first payment window, will begin receiving their payments through direct deposit and paper checks.

Payments ranged from a low of $5, to a high of $77,695, with the median average payment equaling $8,465.

The department estimated demand from eligible child care providers and set maximum amounts for the payment criteria, according to those estimates. Because the amounts requested applicants exceeded the funds available, adjustments to the payment amounts were required.

The Child Care Counts: COVID-19 Emergency Payment Program, is broken into three smaller programs, targeted at the most common circumstances early care and education providers are facing in the wake of the public health emergency. The individual payment programs and the amounts allocated to them during period one, are detailed below.

Additionally, the department issued payments across three application periods: May 18-29, June 8-19, and June 29 to July 10. Providers are encouraged to apply during all eligible phases and may be eligible for funding through multiple programs.

Funding to care for essential workforce families came in at $24.43 million for period one. This program is designed to support the costs of providing care for essential workforce families. Funds are to be used for paying staff, reimbursing families or other allowable expenses.

Incentive pay is in the amount of $5.38 million for period one. The Incentive Pay program provides additional wages for childcare providers and individual educators. Funds are required to be used to increase base pay during the State of Emergency, for current employees, providers and individual educators.

Support for temporarily closed childcare programs is at $2.41 million for period one. To assist providers who were forced to close, this program helps defray costs associated with retaining staff and reopening childcare programs, as Wisconsin’s workforce returns to work.

Funds are required to be used for reopening within 30 days of receiving funding. The money received is required to be used for paying staff, reimbursing families or other allowable expenses.