ITHACA, N.Y. –– Rep. Tom Reed during a visit to the Ithaca Community Childcare Center Wednesday announced plans to vote on funding for childcare centers as part of a further round of coronavirus aid being voted on in Washington in the coming weeks.

His visit comes as benefits from the original Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act, passed in March, approach their July 26 expiration.

As part of the federal CARES Act, $65 million in grants were made available for childcare providers statewide through the New York Forward Child Care Expansion Incentive program. A second round of funding allowing childcare centers to expand capacity and buy necessary screening and sanitizing materials could be made available if a new stimulus package is passed.

“What I see on the horizon is that there is a crisis in America’s childcare demands and needs because of the COVID-19 situation and what we need to do is be prepared for it,” Reed said. “In these particular times, it’s right for government to step up and provide additional assistance to our communities.”

Jeanne Malone, the program director at IC3, said that government money is a necessity to continue operation and meet the childcare needs of the community.

“The reality is, in order for people to get back to work, they need care for their kids and they need people to provide that care for their kids,” she said. “the paycheck protection plan was the first thing that we received and that came in April. It was getting to a point that if we didn’t get that three days before we did, we were not sure we were going to be able to continue to employ our staff to continue to offer essential care.”

In order to reopen, childcare facilities will have to purchase new touch-free thermometers, cleaning materials, have access to fast testing and be able to pay their employees –– which all adds up to significant out of pocket costs. And with New York and other states reopening amid the pandemic, that money will have to come soon.

Reed said that a new stimulus bill, which he estimates will shape up to around $1.5 trillion package, will be passed soon. And that childcare centers will hopefully be able to take advantage of the funding by the end of the summer.

“(The bill) is coming into focus,” said Reed. “We need to make sure that they have the resources to meet their needs.”

Anna Lamb

Anna Lamb is a reporter for the Ithaca Voice. Questions? Story tips? Contact her at alamb@ithacavoice.com