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Additional help available for early learning providers to increase wages and benefits

Child Care for Babies

(Update: Grant Application Closed on September 30, 2022)

More funding is now available for Arizona child care providers to help with workforce wage increases, bonuses, benefits and other employee incentives.

This increase comes to the Child Care Stabilization Grant available through the Arizona Department of Economic Security (DES).

Child care providers who are receiving monthly assistance through the stabilization grant are eligible to apply for the additional funding.

And for those who haven’t applied yet, there is still time to fill out the easy application for this lifeline of monthly assistance. It is available for all of Arizona’s licensed child care providers through June 2023.

DES is offering these monthly grants of $2,500 to $10,000 to licensed child care providers (the amount depends on provider size) through federal COVID-19 relief funding. The grants can be used for a variety of expenses including increasing staff salaries, offering retention bonuses, rent, utilities, supplies or even helping families afford care.

In the wake of the COVID pandemic, many Arizona child care providers are struggling to stay open. And those who are open are serving a fraction of the kids they cared for pre-pandemic.

“We know providers are under an enormous amount of stress with staffing shortages, increased health and safety regulations, and the uncertainties caused by both staff and child illnesses,” said Lela Wendell, interim assistant director at DES. “We have worked to make it as easy as possible to get this reliable, flexible funding into their hands so that they can focus on what they do best: educating kids and supporting working families.”

Here’s what providers need to qualify:

  • Be in good standing with their regulatory agency.
  • Be serving children in person.
  • Comply with simple monthly reporting.

The application takes 10 minutes to complete and new providers are approved by the 15th of every month. And as long as providers continue to meet the qualifying criteria, they will receive the monthly funds through June 2023.

Early childhood advocates, including Arizona’s early childhood agency, First Things First, don’t want any providers to miss out on the money dedicated to supporting them.

About 2,300 providers statewide have already applied, but hundreds more are eligible.

Providers are also encouraged to apply to First Things First’s Quality First program for additional supports. Quality First is recruiting providers to enroll in the quality-improvement program.

Quality First partners with child care and preschool providers to improve the quality of early learning across Arizona. Quality First funds quality improvements that research proves help babies, toddlers and preschoolers thrive, such as training for teachers to expand their skills and help to create learning environments that nurture the emotional, social and academic development of every child.

Providers who enroll in Quality First receive support such as individualized coaching, funding for the purchase of educational materials and equipment, along with specialized assistance from a team of experts in child health. For more information visit the Quality First website.

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