The San Mateo County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously Tuesday to allocate $2 million in federal funding received from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act (CARES) to create a Child Care Relief Fund.
The $2 million represents about 1.5% of the $134 million the county received through the CARES Act.
The new fund will help child care providers that have been financially impacted by the pandemic, providing 25 grants for child care centers of up to $55,000 each and 65 grants for family child care homes of up to $10,000 each.
"The grant program will prioritize funding providers serving the most vulnerable San Mateo County residents, such as those who receive CalWorks subsidies or are located in the highest need zip codes,” said Dayna Chung, Executive Director of the Community Equity Collaborative, which will work with County staff to administer the fund.
Before the pandemic hit, about 104,712 San Mateo County residents used child care to enable full-time work, generating annual wages of $6.4 billion, according to a county staff report. Without child care, people will be forced to leave the workforce, which could result in a decrease in economic activity of up to $3.6 billion in lost wages, according to the report.
San Mateo County had a child care shortage of about 23,591 spots. Reducing capacity at existing child care centers by 50% will create an additional shortage of 19,764 spots, yielding a total projected shortage of 43,355 child care spots countywide. And that figure does not account for school-aged kids doing distance learning.
A recent county survey found that 59% of family child care homes and 30% of child care centers have a month or less of operating expenses on hand. And 42% of family child care homes and 71% of child care centers project a net income loss in the fall, according to a press statement from county Supervisor Dave Pine's office.
Child care centers will be eligible for funding based on a point system, with priority for grant funds going to care providers that serve families that receive CalWORKS subsidies, are located in high-need zip codes, are financially sustainable or participate in county educational partnerships, like "The Big Lift," a multi-year initiative aimed at improving reading proficiency for underserved kids through early education programs.
The grant program will be administered by the Community Equity Collaborative and is set to launch in mid-August or early September. The Community Equity Collaborative will work with the Board of Supervisors and a coalition of other organizations that are represented on the county's COVID-19 Child Care Response Team, including First 5 San Mateo County, the county's Office of Education, the Child Care Partnership Council, the Silicon Valley Community Foundation, 4Cs of San Mateo County and Build Up for San Mateo County's Children.
"I'm just really excited by the enthusiasm about the proposal and its potential to make a big difference for child care in this county," said Supervisor Dave Pine. "I think it's a really wise use of our CARES Act funding."