The Utah Department of Workforce Services Office of Child Care has awarded Salt Lake County’s child care and Early Head Start centers with a $1.46 million child care stabilization grant via funding from the federal American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA).
Each month from now until September 2023, the grant will pay each center a set amount, based on the center’s child care license. This grant will allow the child care and Early Head Start centers to invest in supplies, furnishings, improvements, and equipment that will ensure a safe and productive learning environment for each child.
“We need to make it easier for parents and caregivers to both work and afford child care. Our children are the next generation. If we want them to grow up to be bold and ambitious adults, their parents need to at least have the option of affordable child care. Without affordable child care, children, parents, and society as a whole will suffer,” said Salt Lake County Mayor Jenny Wilson.
Salt Lake County operates four licensed child care centers and three Early Head Start sites. Approximately 4,000 children are served annually. This funding will help county-owned child care centers continue to provide quality child care at an affordable rate.
“Our child care centers are located throughout the county, with several centers strategically located in underserved areas. Like many of the programs offered by Salt Lake County Parks and Recreation, we try to keep our rates low enough that parents can afford this crucial service for their children while also balancing other expenses,” said Julie Peck-Dabling, Recreation Section Manager for Salt Lake County Parks & Recreation.
Child care is one of the biggest expenses families face and child care tends to be out of reach for low-wage workers. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), child care is affordable if it costs no more than 7% of a family’s income. The average cost of infant care in Utah is roughly $10,000 annually. By this standard, only 12.0% of Utah families can afford infant care.
“The country is struggling with a child care crisis. We are so grateful that we’re able to do this much for families,” added Peck-Dabling.