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INDIANAPOLIS — As daycares start to reopen after closing due to the COVID-19 pandemic, some facing new expenses to help keep kids healthy and safe.
“Across the state, about a third of providers closed temporarily,” said Maureen Weber, president of Early Learning Indiana. “And the other two-thirds stayed open but serving far fewer children in most cases.”
Despite constant disinfecting and cleaning, parents were apprehensive to send their children to daycare, forcing some places, like Little Duckling Daycare on the east side of Indianapolis, to close for five weeks.
“It’s just not enough to soothe their minds when they hear what’s going on or may have even been affected by COVID-19,” said Little Duckling Daycare Director Cindy Bridges.
But thanks to the Early Learning Indiana Come Back Stronger Fund with support from the Lilly Endowment, they’re helping childcare providers do just that. It's offering grants up to $40,000 to help facilities make the necessary health and safety changes after the pandemic.
“Childcare providers really operate on razor-thin margins,” Weber said. “It’s a hard business to be in in the very best of times. And we know that these past few months I’ve been anything but the best of times.”
Little Duckling Daycare was one of the lucky recipients. The director says the funds be used for additional equipment to safely prepare meals and more furniture so students can practice social distancing.
“If they did not have that opportunity, I wouldn’t be able to afford those equipment the supplies and so I’m so appreciative that the comeback fund was even available,” Bridges said.
“We know that this is an essential part of the economic engine of the state and so we want to help providers make sure that they can do the things that they need to do to make families confident in returning their children to care,” Weber said.
Early Learning Indiana is evaluating applications on a rolling basis. They have a total of $15 million dollars for eligible providers statewide and allocate funds once a week.
They say they want to get the money into the hands of providers as fast as they can.
To apply, visit this link.