Council considering $7.7M to help child care providers operate in public schools

Council considering $7.7M to help child care providers operate in public schools

Another $864K would go to mental health for schools

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Child care providers who provide programs in Montgomery County Public School buildings might get financial help for the cost of offering care during a virtual learning semester.

The County Council is considering spending roughly $7.7 million in federal grant funds to provide before, during and after school child care to students in low-income working families and children in foster care during the fall school semester.

The programs are expected to help parents and caregivers who can’t telework and “provide supervision for their children as they navigate online school. Low-income families and foster families need additional support so that their children can access virtual learning,” according to a staff report on the funds.

Here’s how the money will be broken down:
● $5.6 million to support tuition for full-day, school-age child care services for low-income working families whose income is below 400% of the Federal Poverty Level and children in foster care while MCPS is meeting virtually in the fall
● $1.8 million for reopening grants for full-day, school-age child care services to be provided in MCPS buildings
● $287,000 to the county’s health department for employees to administer the grants to child care providers and tuition support services for low-income families and foster families

The reopening grant awards will be based on the number of classrooms that child care providers open during the fall semester, multiplied by $19,500. The maximum grant award is $250,000.

County Council President Sidney Katz said child care providers operating in the schools are running out of funds to maintain their businesses.

“We know how important child care is always, but especially now,” he said. “They’ve experienced six months of complete revenue loss and although they’re now able to open their doors, it’s with greatly reduced capacity with increased expenses. As one provider shared, ‘We will still lose money every day, just not as much.’”

A public hearing and vote on the funds are scheduled for Sept. 29.

The County Council is also considering a separate fund of more than $864,000 to increase mental health services for MCPS students.

The funds came through the Maryland State Department of Education’s Concentration of Poverty School Grant Program.

Of the $864,000 grant, about $557,000 would be used for contractual mental health services and $307,000 would be used for hiring three school community health nurses.

A public hearing on the funds is scheduled for Oct. 6.

Council Member Craig Rice said the mental health funds will help students who lack social interaction and have trouble navigating a digital space for learning.

“This is incredibly important also to make sure folks have people to talk to, to reach out and say ‘I’m struggling. I’m having a bad day. I’m frustrated,’” he said. “Those are the kinds of things that help us to avoid these very unfortunate circumstances that many of us know end up in suicides.”

Briana Adhikusuma can be reached at briana.adhikusuma@bethesdamagazine.com.

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