Virtual learning support centers will benefit all Erie County school districts

Erie County

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz says roughly $25 million in CARES Act funding will help out schools, child care providers and caregivers across the county.

“This investment in children, education, and childcare is unprecedented in our county’s history and underscores the gravity of the COVID-19 pandemic and its effects on the lives of children. School districts, child care providers, and children’s caregivers countywide are all under pressure as they navigate the best ways to care for and educate our children in this new reality,” Poloncarz said.

Approximately $14 million in grant funding will help create virtual learning support centers (VLSC) for all 28 school districts. The county says five applicants, covering all of the districts, applied for the VLSC funding.

Through this, 42 VLSCs were established in Buffalo alone by Say Yes Buffalo.

The YWCA of WNY applied on behalf of the Lackawanna School District and will open two VLSCs. The Boys & Girls Club of the Northtowns applied on behalf of the Tonawanda School District and the Charter School for Applied Technology. They’re opening one VLSC.

Erie 1 BOCES is opening 16 VLSCs. They applied for funding on behalf of the following school districts:

  • Alden
  • Lancaster
  • Williamsville
  • Sweet Home
  • Ken-Ton
  • West Seneca
  • Maryvale
  • Grand Island
  • Amherst
  • Cleveland Hill
  • Depew
  • Clarence
  • Cheektowaga
  • Tonawanda
  • Hamburg
  • Akron

Erie 2 BOCES is opening 10 VLSCs. They applied on behalf of the following districts:

  • East Aurora
  • Eden
  • Holland
  • Gowanda
  • Iroquois
  • Lake Shore
  • North Collins
  • Orchard Park
  • Springville-Griffith Institute

These centers will be used primarily by kids ages 5-12. They’re free to attend for parents earning less than 85 percent of the state’s median income.

Another $4 million from the CARES Act funding will directly support childcare providers and additional funding will replenish and expand the childcare subsidy to include families earning up to 85 percent of the state’s median income.

“Childcare was and remains the backbone of the entire workforce system,” Deputy County Executive Maria Whyte says. “This investment will help childcare providers meet the demand for their services.”

Evan Anstey is an Associated Press Award and Emmy-nominated digital producer who has been part of the News 4 team since 2015. See more of his work here and follow him on Twitter.

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