Arizona offers grants to help child-care centers survive during COVID-19 | Local news

Amalia Martinez, a teacher at Herencia Guadalupana Lab School, places puzzle pieces together while organizing games at the Tucson school during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Arizona child-care centers can get a share of $47 million in grants to help them keep their doors open and, if they choose, to make or keep their rates affordable.

The program, announced Thursday by the state Department of Economic Security, will provide $300 for each child who was enrolled and attended a licensed facility in January. The only exception will be for child-care centers that did not open until later.

Facilities in rural areas — defined as anywhere outside of Pima and Maricopa counties — will get an additional $1,000 on top as part of the goal of maintaining access to child care in remote areas.

There also are provisions for aid to child-care operations that closed during the pandemic, providing them with cash if they agree to reopen and provide services by the end of September.

The move comes amid reports that nearly half of all child-care centers in the state have closed since the COVID-19 pandemic began.

The state went from having 171,000 slots for child care to just 76,000, the Arizona Association for the Education of Young Children, which represents many providers, said last month. 

Some of that is due to the fact that parents who typically require child care have been laid off. That leaves them not only with less money to pay for the service but the fact that they may not need it because they are home.

The state also has imposed various safety restrictions and capacity reductions.

DES said it hopes to help providers stay open or reopen, by supplementing the operating costs to prevent permanent closures.

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