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Gov. Laura Kelly announces $53 million in bonuses for Kansas child care workers

From left, Alaina Miller and Jenna Herrin stand outside Countryside Child Development Center at...
From left, Alaina Miller and Jenna Herrin stand outside Countryside Child Development Center at 3221 S.W. Burlingame Road in Topeka after Gov. Laura Kelly announced $53 million in bonuses for Kansas childcare workers during a news conference Tuesday morning. Miller is a teacher at the center, while Herrin is the center's assistant director.(Phil Anderson)
Published: Jun. 21, 2022 at 10:24 AM CDT
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TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - Saying they are key workers for both communities and businesses in the Sunflower State, Gov. Laura Kelly on Tuesday morning announced $53 million in bonuses for the approximate 23,000 childcare employees who work in licensed childcare facilities in Kansas.

The announcement came during a news conference at 9 a.m. Tuesday outside the Countryside Child Development Center at 3221 S.W. Burlingame Road in Topeka.

Kelly said the bonus checks going to childcare workers, which are “a reward for their incredibly hard work,” will range from $750 to $2,500 per person.

She said the childcare workers’ “contributions to our state, our communities and our families are priceless.”

According to the governor’s office, the checks will be made available through Child Care Workforce Appreciation Bonuses that will soon be directly distributed to approximately 22,650 early childhood care workers across Kansas.

All eligible childcare workers will receive a letter in July with instructions on how to accept the bonus. Workers will have until Nov. 18 to act.

To receive checks, the workers must be employed at licensed child care facilities.

Kelly said the childcare sector was severely affected by the coronavirus pandemic, though some new centers are set to open soon in locations such as Emporia and Philliipsburg.

According to the governor’s office, eligible childcare providers must be regularly working in a paid position at a licensed facility and have at least six months of continuous employment at their current employer or six months of combined continuous employment with a licensed provider.

Home-based and relative providers may also qualify for the bonus program, the governor’s office said in a news release.

Those who have worked fewer than six months at a licensed facility also may have an opportunity to receive a bonus, the governor’s office stated.

Licensed facilities include childcare centers, including all Head Start programs and preschools; school-age programs; daycare homes; and Kansas Department of Children and Families relative providers.

The bonus dollars are being made available through federal Child Care Development Funds. The one-time payment will begin in mid-to-late July.

According to the governor’s office, the Kelly Administration has invested more than $272 million to support childcare providers. That amount includes three rounds of Child Care Sustainability Grants to assist childcare providers to meet the costs of operating their businesses through the remaining impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The third round of Child Care Sustainability Grants announced in March made more than $160 million available for childcare businesses to be used for payroll expenses, costs of operations, and potential revenue losses.

Rounds one and two of the sustainability grants provided nearly $100 million to help ensure childcare centers and home-based providers were able to remain open.

Also, HERO Relief Provider Funding assisted all open child care providers and related providers with funding support during the immediate impact of COVID-19. More than $11 million was awarded to providers to assist with unexpected expenses related to the pandemic.

Alaina Miller, a “float” teacher at the Countryside Child Development Center, said Kelly’s announcement helps bring attention to the important work being done by childcare workers.

Jenna Herrin, assistant director of the Countryside Child Development Center, said news of the bonuses would be a boost to morale for childcare workers locally and statewide.

Child Care Aware of Kansas will implement the program on behalf of the Kansas Department for Children and Families and the Kansas Department of Health and Environment, the governor’s office said.

Child Care Aware of Kansas will offer educational webinars about the process.

Kelly also wrote a letter to licensed child care providers thanking them for their work and informing them of how to qualify for the bonus award. The letter is available here.

For more information, visit www.ks.child careaware.org.

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