ST. PAUL — Last week Gov. Tim Walz announced his priorities for $91 million in federal funding Minnesota received through the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act for children, students, and families during the COVID emergency.
These funds will help ensure there are safe places for children to go as our economy reopens this summer and educational programs continue.
The governor’s priorities for the funding are to increase student access to technology and summer school; support child care and programs providing care to workers in Critical Businesses; provide financial support and flexibility to child care providers; and help working families experiencing financial losses due to COVID-19.
“We must continue prioritizing Minnesota’s children and families through this crisis,” said Gov. Walz. “Through this funding for education and child care, we can get technology into the hands of students who do not have it, help child care stay open, and support working families who are struggling to afford the child care they need to safely return to work. Our children are our future, and these federal dollars will be an investment in their success.”
“Child care was a priority for our Administration before this pandemic, and we will continue to lift up our child care providers and working Minnesotans by working to maximize the funding available to address their needs across the state,” said Lt. Gov. Peggy Flanagan. “Investments toward our littlest Minnesotans and the safety of our families and workers is our top priority.”
The Department of Health released specific public health guidance to protect children, employees, and families in schools, youth programs and care settings.
Through the CARES Act, Minnesota will receive $48 million in Child Care Development Block Grant (CCDBG) funds and anticipates receiving $43 million in the Governor’s Emergency Education Relief (GEER) funds.
The governor asked that GEER dollars be used to:
• Prioritizing technology for K-12 students to assist their learning.
• Summer school programming for students who need additional support over the summer months.
• Wrap-around supports like those students would receive in a full-service community school.
• A portion of the GEER funds will also support students in higher education including critical technology needs of students, Minnesota Tribal Colleges, and strengthening equity in education through targeted support of teacher preparation programs and postsecondary faculty.
The governor asked that CCDBG dollars be used to:
• Provide increased access to supports to reduce child care costs for working families who are essential workers and on the frontlines.
• Increase funding for peacetime emergency child care grants to expand critical relief and supports for those remaining open to care for children of essential workers, including school-age programs who help meet the needs for care during the summer.
• Provide flexibilities for our center and family child care providers serving lower income working families to continue to fund absent days, pay for second providers and those temporarily closed and other flexibilities needed to support this critical industry.
In addition to these uses above, the governor and lieutenant governor are asking the Legislature to act now to increase Child Care Assistance Program (CCAP) provider rates by passing their supplemental budget request. Increasing the rates paid to providers is critical now more than ever and, if the Legislature fails to pass rates, the state anticipates a federal penalty reduction in CCDBG funds up to $5.5 million.
Minnesota will be applying for the GEER funds, which need approval by the federal government. The Minnesota Department of Education, Office of Higher Education, and the Children’s Cabinet will work with Minnesota Management and Budget and the Governor’s Office to consult with the Legislature and allocate GEER and CCDBG funds.