Alaska child care providers to receive $10.5M in virus funds

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — Alaska's government has announced that child care providers will receive an additional $10.5 million from the state's portion of federal coronavirus relief funds.

State Department of Health and Social Services Commissioner Adam Crum said in a statement that the department and Republican Gov. Mike Dunleavy directed the additional funding to businesses providing child care, The Anchorage Daily News reported Saturday.

“We found that the funding available to this sector was not coming fast enough," Crum said.

Child care is critical to the economy because it allows parents to return to work, said Stephanie Berglund, CEO of thread, which provides a child care resource and referral network.

The programs need government assistance to survive the financial impact of the pandemic and “to provide strong child care infrastructure when this is all over,” Berglund said.

The state previously told licensed child care providers to expect more federal relief money than they eventually received.

The state’s Division of Public Assistance announced enough funding would be available to cover revenue losses among providers for March, April and May. But the funds only covered March payments with $6.5 million in federal funds and another $2.6 million in state money.

About half of Alaska’s child care providers temporarily shut their doors in March, while others operated with severe reductions, Berglund said.

About 69% are now open, but some have closed permanently, including at least five in Anchorage. Many of those remaining open operate at 30% to 50% capacity, Berglund said.

Regardless of capacity the revenue loss among providers continues as fewer families are sending children to care facilities because of health risks or an inability to afford the cost, Berglund said.

For most people, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia, and death. The vast majority of people recover.