ALBANY — New York will direct $30 million in federal CARES Act funds towards childcare scholarships for income-eligible essential workers, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said Thursday.
Essential workers include first responders like health care workers, pharmaceutical staff, law enforcement, firefighters, food delivery workers, grocery store employees, and others who are needed to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. To qualify for the scholarship, workers must have a household income less than 300 percent of the federal poverty level, or $78,600 annually for a family of four.
Brightside Up, the Capital Region’s primary childcare resource and referral agency, applauded Cuomo’s plan to provide free childcare to eligible essential workers at no cost.
“Access to affordable and safe childcare is a barrier for working parents during the best of times, and even more so during a crisis,” Kate Smith, spokeswoman for Brightside Up, said in an email. “New York state’s plan will ensure that the workforce that is needed to protect and care for the public during this pandemic have the childcare that allows them to continue to serve us all.”
The CARES Act has provided New York with $163.6 million in emergency relief to the childcare system. Essential workers using a regulated childcare provider will receive a scholarship for the cost of care as long as funds to support it are available.
The governor also announced that CARES funding will be used to purchase supplies for childcare providers statewide who remain open, including masks, gloves, diapers, baby wipes, baby formula, and food. Childcare resource and referral agencies can provide grants of up to $600 per provider.
All licensed and regulated providers who are caring for essential workers are able to participate in these programs.
Those with childcare needs can fill out a scholarship application in English or Spanish on the brightsideup.org website. Applicants will be contacted by Brightside Up within one business day.