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Childcare businesses forced to close, still waiting for CARES Act funding

Posted at 7:48 PM, Jun 29, 2021
and last updated 2021-06-29 19:48:07-04

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — The last time we visited Toot-Toot Day Care in Buffalo, Diane Abram was busy caring for a handful of children, putting them down for a nap.

That was in February 2020, before the pandemic hit. Now, the childcare provider has been forced to shut down.

“My enrollment dropped all the way down to two children which I couldn’t afford to provide childcare for just two children,” said Abram.

Abram’s in-home daycare service was paid mostly through county subsidies, and many of her former clients are either not working or not back to school full time.

“When the children are not here, we were getting paid on the attendance, not the enrollment,” she said.

So, when Abram found out about the millions of dollars in CARES Act funding, available to childcare providers in the state, she made sure to get her application in, but she says, the application process was daunting and confusing.

“They said I was approved for the $11,000 and I had to spend the $11,000 and then wait for the reimbursement.”

Abram says many childcare providers she knows of could not complete the application, and didn’t have the cash to spend the money first and then get reimbursed.

“They were asking for receipts for diapers, then would come back and say ‘what size were those diapers,” said Dede Hill with The Schuyler Center for Analysis and Advocacy.

The Western New York Women’s Foundation says childcare providers in Erie County missed out on an estimated 2.9 million in CARES Act funding due to the state failing to fully spend the allocated funding in a timely fashion.

The foundation says New York childcare providers received $465,236 in CARES Round 2 funding, and about $218,489 in CARES Round 3.

The foundation along with others like Hill are asking the state to release the remaining funds or open the application process back up.

The New York State Office of Child and Family Services says, “The reality is the state has delivered $4 million to the Child Care Coalition of the Niagara Frontier for child care providers in Erie County, part of the nearly $80 million of CARES Act funding that’s been dispersed to providers statewide. Meanwhile, we are preparing to accept applications for nearly $3 billion in funding from the American Rescue Plan Act and the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act this summer, which will support child care scholarships for essential workers, child care subsidy payments, personal protective equipment and child care capacity in child care ‘deserts,’ among other items.”