JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) — The Juneau Assembly could approve more than $1 million in funds to help licensed child care providers whose businesses have been hurt by the coronavirus.
The assembly plans to vote on an emergency measure during a special meeting scheduled for Thursday, KTOO-FM reported Saturday.
The vote would commit federal relief funds for distribution to child care providers beginning in June.
The program would initially give licensed providers up to $500 per child each month, about half of what they would normally receive in tuition if they were at capacity.
The subsidy would decrease to $250 per full-time enrolled child in September.
The federal funding last until year’s end. Funding for a non-emergency, child care stipend program is in the city’s proposed budget.
Before the pandemic, city officials identified a lack of affordable child care as a factor keeping new parents from working and hindering the economy.
When COVID-19 health restrictions mandates took effect in March, Juneau child care centers with long waiting lists were forced to close.
Day care facilities have started reopening as the state relaxes health mandates. The businesses are expected to adopt new practices to reduce the risk of spreading the virus, including decreased enrollment, although the change does not benefit their financial health.
“Child care facilities are already operating on a really small margin, so that creates a pretty big need for financial assistance if they’re not going to be operating at full capacity,” said Laura Martinson, a member of the city’s economic stabilization task force. “They need financial assistance to cover the enrollment shortages.”
For most people, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia and death. The vast majority of people recover.