Indiana extends childcare scholarships for youngsters by way of 2022

FSSA officials say many providers are still following the same COVID-19 health protocols they started last year but continue to struggle with low enrollment.  - (Jeanie Lindsay / IPB News)

FSSA officials say many providers are still following the same COVID-19 health protocols they started last year but continue to struggle with low enrollment.

(Jeanie Lindsay / IPB News)

The has expanded a program to help key workers pay for childcare.

The Indiana Family and Social Services Administration announced this week that scholarships under the Build, Learn, Grow program will be available through March 2022. They were originally supposed to end this October.

Scholarships under the Build, Learn, Grow initiative cover up to 80 percent of the costs for childcare and early intervention for key workers – including people who work in healthcare, hospitality and manufacturing, among other things.

Nicole Norvell, director of the FSSA’s Office of Early Childhood and Out-of-school Learning, said existing funding could support the program longer as the number of enrolled families remained low.

“We haven’t had as many families enrolled as we hoped, so we still have enough funds to continue,” she said.

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Norvell said if the funds go untapped, the FSSA will consider investing them in other initiatives to support providers and families. However, she said there may be another renewal when families register and enough funds are available.

“We’re going to be keeping a close eye on this, and yes, when we get around March and we still have funds to spend, we’d probably extend the scholarship opportunity again,” said Norvell.

The FSSA says the program is designed to help families, but it also plays a vital role in supporting childcare and spring providers as many are struggling to enroll children during the pandemic.

Build, Learn, Grow initially provided 50,000 grants. Norvell said 5,682 families have enrolled to date, but hopes the number will rise as the new school year begins.

Contact reporter Jeanie at [email protected].edu or follow her on Twitter at @jeanjeanielindz.

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