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Local Governments Using CARES Act Funding to Save Child Care

In late March, Congress passed a landmark bill titled the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) to provide citizens and state and local governments with economic relief in response to the growing coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. When creating this legislation, Congress included flexible funding for states to distribute to local governments to lessen the blow the pandemic would have on their communities.

Child care is the workforce behind the workforce. Without reliable child care, parents are forced to choose between working to provide for their family and having a safe place for their children to learn and grow. Child care also plays a crucial role in providing our most vulnerable children with high-quality early learning and experiences needed to lay a strong foundation to enter kindergarten ready-to-learn and thrive for many years to come. Simply put, without high-quality child care, there will not be the strong workforce now or in the future to support economic recovery.

In Ohio, a handful of communities recognized child care is plays a critical role in the long road to economic recovery and dedicated a portion of their local CARES funding to stabilizing the local child care industry. Below are highlights of the unique approaches these communities have taken:

City of Columbus & Franklin County

The City of Columbus will provide $6.2 million of its CARES Act dollars to child care providers who serve low-income children in Columbus, Groveport, Reynoldsburg, and Whitehall. Franklin County will partner with the City by contributing an additional $2 million of its CARES Act dollars to this initiative. This funding will support child care programs as their business’s respond to reduced ratios, low enrollment, and new health and safety measures.

“Childcare needs to be funded like the essential infrastructure that it is,” said President Pro Tem of Columbus City Council, Elizabeth Brown. “Ensuring access to childcare for all families is one of the most important investments we can make for the health of our economy now and into the future.” [1]

Hamilton County

To offset the costs incurred while child care programs provided temporary pandemic child care in Hamilton County, the county will direct a portion of their local CARES Act dollars to provide these programs with financial assistance. The assistance will only be provided to those who operated under a temporary pandemic child care license between March 26th and May 30th. After the programs apply for financial assistance, the county will make a decision on the amount of CARES Act dollars needed to support programs and determine each program’s eligibility for the grant and payment amount. [2]

City of Zanesville

The City of Zanesville plans to utilize $100,000 of their CARES funding as part of their Child Care Facilities Compliance Package. This funding would provide child care programs with the support needed to bring facilities up to code, comply with COVID-19 regulations..

"There are child care facilities who can't afford to make the necessary improvements or have had to cut their enrollment down," Mayor Don Mason said. "Our goal is to use this money to make those centers compliant so they can meet the COVID-19 measures." [3]

The leadership of our local communities large and small are exemplary. As county and city governments continue to have discussions on CARES Act funding, we are hopeful that they too will consider investing in child care to meet the needs of young children, working families and local economies.


[3] Times Recorder, “Council votes on distribution of $894,000 from CARES Act.” (July 14, 2020)


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