The ability to care for 13,000 children in the state of Utah has temporarily been suspended, but the state is working on solutions for child care needs.
In response to decreased capacity for child care the state’s COVID-19 taskforce has created the Child Care Operations Grant. Tracy Gruber is the director of the Office of Child Care for the Utah Department of Workforce Services. She says the grant is available to licensed child care programs that are open and operating even as they struggle with dropping enrollment.
“The funds will help these programs pay rent, make payroll, purchase supplies, and meet the new health and safety requirements that programs remaining open must meet,” Gruber said.
Currently the funds are only available for child care centers that are still open. In the state 38% of licensed child care centers have temporarily closed, and 18% of Utah’s licensed family programs, those based out of a home, have also temporarily closed.
“We are very much aware of and working on a strategy for those programs that have temporarily closed during this,” Gruber explained. “We understand that those programs are going to need support to reopen. So that they can continue to have their children that were previously enrolled returned to their care, so that their parents can return to work.”
Gruber says they are making sure that child care programs are implementing protocols to reduce the risk of spread within child care centers.
“Some of those requirements include taking temperatures when kids enter programs,” Gruber continued. “Limiting the number of people in and out of the programs. Making sure that the number of children and caregivers in each classroom is extremely limited so no more than 10. We are confident that the programs that are remaining open are implementing these safety protocols, as they were required to do so when they were issued on March 25th. There are people in Utah who are continuing to work and who continue to need child care. We know child care can be delivered safely, so we are continuing to operate in that way.”
The Child Care Operations Grant will be issued monthly until the state and workforce services determine that operations can return to normal. Links to applications can be found here.