BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — On Thursday afternoon, Erie County leaders came together to announce that a portion of the U.S. CARES Act funding will be used to help out with local childcare.
Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz says up to $25 million will be used to help parents, childcare centers and school districts.
Poloncarz was joined by Deputy County Executive Maria Whyte, who explained how the money will be divided.
Up to $11 million will be used for new, virtual learning support centers throughout the county. The county will work closely with school districts, as well as Erie 1 and Erie 2 BOCES on these.
Another $10 million will be used for child care subsidies. The county says that money will replenish and expand the childcare subsidy to include families earning up to 85 percent of the state median income.
Along with this, the other $4 million has been designated for existing child care providers.
In a countywide survey conducted in recent weeks, 89 percent of respondents said they had a need for childcare when schools goes back into session.
54 percent said they would need up to four days of childcare, and 21 percent said they would need it five days a week.
Three quarters of the respondents said they need child care for kids between the ages of five and 11.
“As a working mother and an educator, I empathize with all of the parents struggling to balance work, school and childcare,” said Erie County Legislator Lisa Chimera. “I am grateful for Erie County’s investment of $25 million for continued childcare subsidies, childcare facilities, and for virtual learning resources across our County. I want to thank County Executive Poloncarz for working closely with the Childcare Task Force to develop solutions for working parents in our community.”
Grant applications for virtual support center funding are due by September 14, and selections will be announced on September 21.
Whyte says the centers will open by October 5 and be funded through December 30.
Erica Brecher is an anchor and reporter who has been part of the News 4 team since 2018. See more of her work here.