D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser said Tuesday that $32 million in grants will be going to help licensed District child care facilities get fully back up and running.
The goal is to make sure families, particularly women who lost jobs during the pandemic, can find the child care they need so they can get back to work.
“We know that women left the workforce in large numbers, here in D.C. and nationally, since the beginning of the pandemic and have struggled to return,” Bowser said in a statement. “We also know that for many women, particularly women of color, access to high-quality, affordable child care can be the determining factor in re-entering the workforce.”
The statement added, “With D.C. now fully open, this investment will ensure that more working families, particularly women, can return to work by improving the number of high-quality child care slots in the District.”
According to a news release, the Back-to-Work Child Care Grant will provide financial assistance to facilities to make sure there’s enough child care available, “in neighborhoods most impacted by the pandemic and offset costs for programs to resume operating at full capacity, opening and preserving additional slots for families in need of care.”
The release said more than 90% of child care facilities across D.C. are open and the number of available slots for kids is higher than when the pandemic started. But those facilities are still facing hardships.
Moreover, enrollment is below pre-pandemic levels, even though more child care is needed.
The mayor’s office said investments will expand access to affordable, high quality child care, thus making it possible for more D.C. residents to return to work.
“For DC families to return to work, we must ensure every child has access to safe, nurturing and high-quality care options,” State Superintendent Christina Grant said in a statement.
“The Back-to-Work Child Care Grant will grow the supply and improve the affordability of child care in the District. This grant program, coupled with Mayor Bowser’s historic investments in early care and education, will help put our city, and our littlest learners, on a trajectory for success.”
Approximately $7.9 million will be awarded in the first grant year, with $15.8 million and $8.3 million allotted for the second and third grant years, respectively, a release said.
The Low Income Investment Fund will administer the program.
More information on the Back-to-Work Child Care Grant program will be shared on the Office of the State Superintendent of Education’s website as it becomes available at osse.dc.gov.