Merski, Harkins announce more than $8.3 million to Erie child care centers

ERIE, April 6 – Federal funding of more than $8.3 million will help stabilize Erie’s hard-hit child care industry so providers can be there for the families who rely on them, state Reps. Bob Merski and Pat Harkins, both D-Erie, announced today.

The lawmakers said the American Rescue Plan Act funding will provide nearly 100 Erie city childcare centers with grants ranging from $4,200 to $571,000.

“Reliable, affordable child care is essential for working families,” Merski said. “Without it, parents are tied to the home and drastically limited in their job options. Unfortunately, lengthy shutdowns, declining enrollments and other pandemic-related problems dealt a huge blow to most child care providers, leaving many struggling just to keep their doors open. This funding will help with critical expenses to get these businesses – so vital to working families – back on their feet.”

Harkins said, “Centers can use the dollars for a wide range of resources, including recruiting and retention programs; operational costs like rent, utilities, maintenance and insurance; equipment and supplies; mental health services for children and staff; and reimbursement for past COVID-19-related expenses, among other costs. Stabilizing the industry is critical for families trying to get back to work.”

According to the state Department of Human Services, which administers the funding, centers will receive the funding in six monthly installments and must use it within nine months after their applications were approved. Centers also must report to DHS on how the funding is spent.

A list of approved grants can be found here.

The American Rescue Plan Act provided $24 billion to states nationwide to stabilize the child care sector. The grants to the Erie city providers are part of a package of $628.5 million in approved ARPA funding to childcare providers statewide. 

In fall, DHS announced its plan to distribute the ARPA funding to help stabilize the child care industry.