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Merkley, Wyden announce child care development block grants

KTVZ file

WASHINGTON (KTVZ) -- Sens. Jeff Merkley and Ron Wyden, D-Ore., announced Thursday that Oregon will receive nearly $38.6 million in Child Care and Development Block Grant funding to help support families’ child care needs and child care providers throughout the coronavirus pandemic.

The funding, which will be administered by the Department of Health and Human Services, is authorized by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, which Congress approved last month.

“Health care workers and first responders on the front lines of the coronavirus pandemic work around the clock to keep us safe,” said Merkley. “Congress has a responsibility to make sure they get the support they need to take care of themselves and their families while they’re fighting to protect our friends, family, and neighbors.

"We also need to make sure that child care centers that are closed during this pandemic can stay afloat to serve our communities once more parents go back to work. Every parent should be able to go to work with the confidence their children will be safe and well cared for while they’re gone, now more than ever.”

“Oregonians doing essential jobs during this public health crisis must be able to go to work solid in the knowledge that child care remains intact for their families,” Wyden said. “More needs to be done to support these heroes working 24-7 as health care providers and first responders, but I am gratified these resources are coming in to bolster care for their children in communities across Oregon.”

In order to help ensure that grants go to a larger share of essential workers who utilize child care, the CARES Act funding allows Oregon to increase income limits for applicants from 185% of the Federal Poverty Level (FPL) to 85% of State Median Income or 250% of the Federal Poverty Level, whichever is higher.

This change will also allow Oregon to offer child care assistance to many workers who previously would have been unable to afford the services through Oregon’s new COVID-19 Child Care Grant Program. In addition, a temporary Department of Human Services emergency rule has waived co-payments for all families participating in the program. 

In an effort to support providers, participating establishments that are closed due to COVID-19 will continue to remain eligible for ongoing payments, and providers that remain open will be paid for an increased number of absent days for children who are enrolled but not attending during the emergency.

Article Topic Follows: Coronavirus

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