Effingham County approves $200K for child care expansion, retention | Local News


EFFINGHAM — Effingham County is dedicating $200,000 of its federal COVID-relief funds to retain child care providers and expand services in the area.

The need for better access to affordable child care in Effingham County has become a growing concern in recent years, which led the county to earmark $400,000 in American Rescue Plan Act funds for the Effingham County Child Care Research Committee. Now, the county is beginning to put these funds to use after voting in favor of two funding requests on Monday.

Child Care Research Committee members Courtney Yockey and Sasha Althoff made two separate requests at the Tax and Finance Committee meeting prior to the county board’s meeting.

Althoff requested $100,000 in the research committee’s earmarked ARPA funds for a stabilization grant aimed at retaining child care workers and expanding services by reopening classrooms to assist centers in increasing their capacity.

“We know child care services are a necessary component of a thriving workforce. We kind of like to think of it as the workforce behind the workforce,” Althoff said.

Althoff told the Tax and Finance Committee that the Child Care Research Committee will closely monitor the impact of the programs on the community to ensure their efforts are effective.

“We also plan to do some follow-up surveys with individuals that receive it just so we can try to measure some sort of return on investment or impact that it made,” she said.

Additionally, Althoff shared some statistics with the Tax and Finance Committee that reflect the impact that access to affordable child care has on a community, particularly its workforce.

“There has been 1,234 jobs created due to child care providers. For the spots we have in Effingham County, it allows roughly 1,234 people to be in the workforce,” Althoff said. “Child care centers on average make it possible for 175 people to go to work per center, but in the last quarter there has been almost a 15% decrease in the number of licensed child care workers.”

Child care providers in Effingham County must apply for the stabilization grant. Eligible applicants include licensed child care centers, child care homes, and the Crisis Nursery in Effingham. Each full-time or part-time employee of a licensed provider and the length of their employment will be taken into account when deciding how large the sum of their grant will be.

The stipend amount for employees will increase as they spend more time as child care providers until capping out at 10 years.

The funds from the grant will be disbursed to the Southeastern Illinois Community Foundation. The foundation will be responsible for disbursing the funds to child care providers, who will then appropriately distribute the funds among their workers.

The board also approved the Child Care Research Committee’s request for $100,000 of its earmarked ARPA funds to be disbursed to assist in the funding of a new day care center in Dieterich that will be part of a larger facility, The Wright Family Center.

The village of Dieterich received a PARC grant from the Illinois Department of Natural Resources to fund the recreational side of the facility, but it doesn’t apply to the day care portion, which will be operated by the Montessori Kids Universe of Effingham.

The $100,000 approved by the board will go toward reducing the child care facility’s current cost overrun of approximately $440,000.

The board’s next regular meeting is scheduled for Nov. 21.

In other matters, the board:

• Scheduled the Truth-in-Taxation hearing for a proposed tax levy for Nov. 7 at 4 p.m.

• Approved $24,328.42 in ARPA funds for the Effingham County Coroner for cameras, radios, computers and other similar technology.

• Approved $141,471 in ARPA funds for cooling towers for the government center.

• Awarded Lakeside Roofing a request for proposal for the commercial roof for the Effingham County Office Building.

• Approved $15,000 in ARPA funds for SAFE to support the center’s awareness director and therapist.

• Approved earmarking a maximum of $50,000 of the county’s ARPA funds for Heartland Human Services to fund retention and recruitment efforts.

• Approved earmarking $10,000 of the county’s ARPA funds for the 708 Board to fund a One Hope United program in schools through Heartland Human Services.

• Approved earmarking $495,600 of the county’s ARPA funds for one month for the county’s fire departments for improved communication.

• Approved earmarking $345,000 of the county’s ARPA funds for Community Support Systems to purchase buses and pay for operational costs until further review by the Effingham County Tax and Finance Committee.

• Dissolved the county’s ARPA Committee.

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