Earlier this year, The Women’s Fund of Greater Birmingham and other members of the Alabama Child Care Task Force encouraged Governor Kay Ivey’s administration to include support for child care in its coronavirus response through the CARES Act.

Today we are thrilled to share an exciting win from this advocacy effort: the launch of the Temporary Assistance for Stabilizing Child Care (TASCC) grants program by the Alabama Department of Human Resources. TASCC will help child care programs regain their footing and reopen. Furthermore, the program’s application and guidance are straightforward and based on the task force recommendations and examples of what has worked in other states.

As of March 26, 2020, Alabama DHR reported that only 7% of licensed child care centers and 29% of day care homes were open and operating statewide. As of early July, the percentage was still only slightly over half (52%).

As an industry, the child care sector was operating on shoestring margins before the COVID-19 emergency. Continued closures would put a substantial percentage of child care programs out of business permanently, exacerbating the widespread child care deserts that already exist across the state.

In the central Alabama region, there is a critical shortage of child care for health care workers alone. Nationally, 77% of essential health care workers are womenThis includes registered nurses and child care workers, 92% and 93% of whom are women respectively.

Additionally, the COVID-19 pandemic continues to disproportionately affect women in many other ways. One in three jobs held by women has been designated as essential, compared to 28% of men.

The TASCC grants program will allow child care providers to continue supporting the state’s essential workforce throughout the pandemic and remain in business to support the rest of Alabama’s parents when they return to work. Sixty-five percent of Alabama children under the of six have all available parents in the workforce, making access to quality child care essential for full workforce participation, especially for women.

Grant amounts will be based on the number of children a center is licensed for, and is designed specifically to provide relief for centers not already receiving sustainability payments through child care subsidy or Head Start. Based on preliminary calculations, the total investment in this program could be upwards of $30 million if every eligible center applies. Centers receiving grant funds will be required to reopen by August 17.

The Women’s Fund applauds this tremendous effort from the Alabama Department of Human Resources and their recognition of child care as a critical workforce support for the state.

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