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Alabama DHR issues 2nd round of bonuses for child care workers

Published: Mar. 3, 2022 at 7:55 PM CST
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MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) - Child care providers are getting some much needed help. This after more bonuses totaling $12.6 million were awarded to more than 10,000 child care workers thanks to state grants.

Focus Point Education Academy is committed to caring for some of the youngest river region residents.

“We have about 60 children here at this location in Montgomery and we have about 30 children at our location in Prattville.” said Aadgresha Earle, Focus Point Education Academy co-owner.

When COVID-19 shut everything down in March 2020, they felt the impact.

“The parents we had were not bringing their children during the period of time where everything was shut down. So financially, it was a really big burden.” said Earle.

When things opened back up owners Earle and Taneki Mayes say they had to navigate a new normal and an increased demand for reliable childcare.

“We saw an influx of calls coming in, but we were in a dilemma because we did not have enough staffing to accommodate all the kids that were trying to come in. We had to turn kids away and create a waiting list.” said Mayes.

Focus Point, along with over a thousand other child care providers are getting a much needed boost thanks to Childcare Workforce Stabilization grants.

“These bonuses have been a lifeline for our center. We’ve been able to retain teachers and not just regular teachers, quality teachers. The quality of teachers that we have now are ready to come to work, they’re doing everything needed for continuing education. They are making sure they are the best performing teachers for these kids,” said Mayes.

The Alabama Department of Human Resources awarded grants to 1,278 child care providers. The grants fund bonuses of $1,500 for full-time employees and $750 for part-time employees. Altogether during the first round 10,065 employees received bonuses totaling $12.6 million. DHR unveiled the program in November to help providers recruit and retain qualified staff as the child care industry recovers from the pandemic.

“This will extend for a two year period. So for each quarter, the providers can apply to receive these bonuses that will hopefully ensure that they can recruit as well as retain employees in their childcare setting,” said Faye Nelson Deputy Commissioner for Family Resources at Alabama DHR.

Eligible employees may receive up to eight quarterly bonuses before the two-year grant period ends in September 2023. Seven grant opportunities remain. To qualify, providers must be in operation when they apply, and they must continue operating for at least one year after receiving a grant. Applicants also must be in good standing with DHR.

The second round runs from Feb. 28 through March 18.

“We’re just excited to have this opportunity to help childcare centers, childcare homes, remain open so that they can serve the citizens,” said Nelson.

Funding for the grants comes from the American Rescue Plan Act.

Applications, grant schedules and additional eligibility requirements are available at https://dhr.alabama.gov/child-care/.

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