Missouri is spending $66 million in federal money to help with child care needs because of the coronavirus pandemic.
The money will allow low-income families looking for work to be eligible for 90-day child care benefits through December, Missouri Department of Social Services Director Jennifer Tidball said Wednesday.
In addition, families with incomes up to 215% of the poverty level and with a “documented child care need” will have access to subsidies for transitional child care through August.
“Today, families who previously did not qualify for a child care subsidy payment may now qualify,” Tidball said. “Many families eligible for this transitional benefit program will also see an increase in the benefit amount.”
Tidball said no family will receive less than 60% of the full child care subsidy benefit.
Gov. Mike Parson allowed businesses to reopen on Monday, and with schools closed for the remainder of the year, some families may still be struggling to find child care. Parson said parents should contact the Social Services Department for assistance.
“I think that’s what all this federal money is for, and we’re trying to provide those services,” Parson said at his press briefing Wednesday. “I think it’s a matter of reaching out to the organization, to Jennifer and her team.”
Child care businesses are also eligible to receive additional funding. Those that remained open to provide services to essential employees are eligible for one-time payments ranging from $1,000 to $7,500. Facilities opening during “nontraditional hours” including before 6 a.m., after 7 p.m. or staying open on weekends, are eligible for payments of $100 per child for April, May and June.
Social Services is also working with the Department of Higher Education and Workforce Development to develop on-site child care programs.
In addition, Missouri is getting $1.5 million in federal money to buy shelf-stable foods for food banks. The money will be divided among the state’s six regional food banks that assist over 1,000 food pantries, homeless shelters, soup kitchens, domestic violence shelters or other meal-serving locations. The St. Louis Area Foodbank will receive $438,669.
Missouri is able to offer an additional $1.8 million to organizations that help support victims of child abuse, domestic abuse and sexual assault. Tidball said with an increase in acts of violence being reported across the state, Social Services is asking the Department of Justice to waive a 20% match requirement for these organizations. This would allow them to use federal dollars more freely.