NORTHWEST ARKANSAS, (KNWA/KFTA) — The COVID-19 pandemic has certainly impacted many Arkansans, and for some families, child care assistance plays a key role in landing and keeping a job.
Finding quality and affordable child care can be stressful and that is where Child Care Aware of NWA comes in. The non-profit organization connects families with child care resources across the region. They work with about 2000 licensed child care providers.
The agency also links parents to different income-based programs and vouchers available throughout the state. They let them know what they can qualify for like the child care assistance available to essential workers.
“Some of the requirements are from your job, showing that you are working, those kinds of things. It’s not based on income so that is definitely helping families… And that was one of the things that during the pandemic that had come out, just to get families to come back to work,” said Michelle Winn the Co-Director, Child Care Aware of NWA.
The agency tells us that families are getting more comfortable bringing their kids to child care centers and many locations are filling up again.
At the same time, there are more centers re-opening their doors and new providers are popping up giving families more options. The organization is also a resource to child care providers offering education and developmental training to help get them up and running.
EOA Children Services of Washington County says they serve about 400 kids a year. It’s head start and early head start programs are federally funded and families are accepted on the highest need basis.
Family Community Manager, Sarah Wendell says the biggest need is for infant toddler-age kids.
“Whenever you show up to a job interview and you have a kid on your hip, jobs don’t love that so by providing that time away from the child, a great safe education that allows parents to go out and look for work,” said Wendell.
There is an income requirement to enter the program. However, once you’re in, getting a job and making more money does not boot you kid out the program.
Wendell says the goal is to help families get to and stay at a place where they are self-sufficient.
There are also opportunities for child care financial assistance and vouchers through the Arkansas Department of Human Services.
If parents have health concerns because of COVID-19, you want to be sure to speak to the providers you’re looking into. Find out about the safety guidelines they have in place and choose the center that is the right fit for your family.