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San Diego County Creates Grant Program For Day Care Providers Hurt By Pandemic

Children play at Magic Hours Preschool in Mira Mesa in this undated photo.

Credit: Ryan and Amy Jellison

Above: Children play at Magic Hours Preschool in Mira Mesa in this undated photo.

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Alicia Sasser Modestino studies gender and labor market issues at the school of public policy and urban affairs at Northeastern University. She surveyed over 2,000 parents nationwide in May and ... Read more →

Aired: August 6, 2020 | Transcript

Child care providers in San Diego County can now apply for cash grants to help them stay in business.

The county Board of Supervisors voted unanimously Tuesday to spend $25 million in federal CARES Act funding on grants to existing child care providers that are struggling to stay afloat because of class-size restrictions brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Providers operating in the county can apply for the grants to pay for pandemic-related expenses, such as cleaning supplies and extra staff.

RELATED: San Diego Facing A Child Care Crisis As Pandemic Decimates Finances Of Providers

The YMCA and the San Diego Foundation will be tasked with giving out the grants. The San Diego Foundation will also be giving out $10 million in private donations over the next five years.

Supervisor Nathan Fletcher first proposed that the county dedicate some of its CARES Act funding to child care providers. His spokesman said he did not immediately know how much money the grants would be, but estimated that a typical grant would be around $5,000.

"Safe child care settings are a vital component of allowing our children to thrive and parents to return to work," Fletcher said in a statement after the vote. "This investment provides the financial flexibility child care providers need to adjust their procedures to align with COVID-19 safe reopening protections and accept more children into their programs."

Chantay Brown, a child care provider for 22 years, called into the Supervisors' meeting Tuesday to say the money is badly needed.

"To make sure we have PPE supplies to keep everyone safe," she said. "We also need to make sure we can provide professional sanitation in our facilities."

Sylva Aldana, another provider, said the money wouldn't just help day

cares.

"We ask that you continue to support us as we continue to support the economy and all the families that are living here in San Diego, especially those that go between San Diego and Tijuana," Aldana said through a translator.

RELATED: State Study Confirms Child Care Centers Could Close Due To COVID-Related Costs

Most day care operators that have stayed open throughout the pandemic are losing money because of requirements that they limit class sizes to prevent outbreaks.

A recent study from UC Berkeley found that in Southern California, 62% of child care programs experienced a loss of income due to low attendance or families not paying the fees, and 81% made staffing changes including laying off employees or cutting benefits.

KPBS contacted 10 local child care providers and all of them said they were losing money amid the pandemic.

Just under 40% of child care centers and 80% of home day cares in Southern California stayed open during the pandemic, according to the UC Berkeley study. But they had to weather increased costs due to cleaning, and restrictions about teachers mixing with different classrooms and decreased revenues because of smaller class sizes.

Though the social distancing requirements hurt child care centers financially, they seem to have paid off by protecting public health. While a number of local outbreaks have been traced back to nursing homes, bars and restaurants in San Diego County, so far only three have originated from community-based organizations or day cares, according to county data.

Listen to this story by Claire Trageser.

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Photo of Claire Trageser

Claire Trageser
Investigative Reporter

opening quote marksclosing quote marksAs a member of the KPBS investigative team, my job is to hold the powerful in San Diego County accountable. I've done in-depth investigations on political campaigns, police officer misconduct and neighborhood quality of life issues.

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