Sep 13, 2022 - News

D.C. launches grant program to expand early child care facilities

Photo: Matt Roth/The Washington Post via Getty Images

D.C. is launching a $10 million grant program to help expand early child care facilities, in hopes of creating more than 1,000 spots for toddlers and infants.

Why it matters: The pandemic has harshly impacted early child care providers. In 2020, more than 5,000 D.C.-area child care centers closed, NBC4 reported.

  • D.C. is also the most expensive place in the U.S. for child care. The District's early child care facilities are privately owned, although some low-income families can receive tuition assistance from the city.

The details: Child care facilities can apply for the grants to expand or create a new facility.

  • Facilities that participate in D.C 's child care subsidy program, serve multilingual children, or are converting pre-K openings to toddler and infant slots will be prioritized in the application process, D.C. deputy superintendent for early learning Sara Mead tells Axios.
  • Grants will be awarded based on the size of the facility and the number of children it will serve.

Flashback: D.C. ran a similar $9 million grant program in fiscal year 2018, creating 1,244 new child care slots for infants and toddlers in D.C. through 47 grants.

Between the lines: According to the D.C. Fiscal Policy Institute, early childhood educators, who are predominantly Black and brown, earn a median annual income of approximately $31,950 — barely above minimum wage and not on par with public school teachers. The median teacher pay in D.C. is just over $81,000, says the D.C. Policy Center.

The program's grant money comes from the fiscal year 2022 D.C. budget, which included $54 million to more fairly compensate early childhood educators, and nearly $40 million of American Rescue Plan funds to stabilize child care centers and homes.

  • Last month, D.C. launched the Pay Equity Fund, offering grants of up to $14,000 for early child care providers. So far, 3,700 applications have been received and 2,600 have been approved, Mead tells Axios.

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