The state’s persistent worker shortage across all industries in the state has been linked to a lack of affordable child care and housing. (Annmarie Timmins | New Hampshire Bulletin)
The Executive Council has approved the Department of Health and Human Services’ request to offer one-time financial assistance to child care centers and people who care for children in their homes. It will add to the more than $100 million the state has invested in expanding child care since the pandemic.
The $3.6 million in federal money approved Wednesday, which providers will have to apply for, can be used to recoup certain operating expenses incurred between March 3, 2021, and Sept. 30, 2023. Allowed expenses include long-term mortgage or lease payments; maintenance, repairs, or renovations; building or expansion of outdoor space; programs or services for necessary business operations, such as software or training; or other facility enhancements, according to the department’s request.
The department hopes the assistance with operating costs will allow providers to invest more in recruiting and retaining child care workers. The state’s persistent worker shortage across all industries in the state has been linked to a lack of affordable child care and housing. Child care providers have pleaded with lawmakers for more financial assistance, telling them, “We are the workforce behind the workforce.”
Lawmakers responded by including $60.5 million in the state budget to expand the child care workforce, increase tuition assistance to families, and help providers with expenses. The state received millions in federal money for similar initiatives. The child care crisis also prompted House Speaker Sherman Packard to establish a special legislative committee to explore ways to address the shortage. The committee is expected to introduce legislation in January related to the child care scholarship program for families; child care staffing ratios; and expanding the child care workforce.
The new awards will be based in part on the number of children providers serve. The department said it will post the application on nh-connections.org, its website of resources for child care providers and families in need of child care. The deadline to apply will be Dec. 1 at 4: 30 p.m.
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