Child Care Strong 2022-01-18T20:16:43+00:00

Welcome to the Child Care Strong grants, administered by MDHS’s Division of Early Childhood Care Department. These are grants offered to child care providers as a part of the American Rescue Plan and are designed to help with operating expenses. All of the information and application process for the Child Care Strong program will be available here. More information will be added as it becomes available, so please check back often!

Child Care Strong will be administered in the following three phases:

  • Phase one will include information on eligibility, how to apply, report on the use of funding, and evaluate current operating expenses.
  • Phase two will include application, awarding, and issuing of funding.
  • Phase three will include the closeout process for these funds.

Stay tuned for more information as Phases launch.

Eligibility for Child Care Strong:

Who is eligible for funding?

  • Providers who are licensed or registered and meet federal criteria are eligible.
  • Licensed providers and Non-relative In-home providers DO NOT have to be participating in the Child Care Payment Program (CCPP) to be eligible for this funding.
  • Some conditions will prevent providers from being awarded funding:
    • Any provider who has been found to have committed fraud/intentional program violation in the Child Care Payment Program within the past year is disqualified.
    • Any child care subsidy-approved provider who is not in good financial standing with MDHS is ineligible.  Good financial standing means there are no state or federal liens or garnishments on your account, that you currently do not owe MDHS any repayment of funding, and that all financial reports required by MDHS are current.  Good financial standing can only be determined for child care subsidy providers.  MDHS does not hold this information on providers who do not participate in the Child Care Payment Program for child care subsidies. Click here to view a list of child care subsidy providers in good financial standing.  Providers who DO NOT participate in the Child Care Payment Program should not use this list to determine eligibility for funding.  This information will be updated regularly.  An additional list of providers who are not in good financial standing will be posted here soon.
    • Any provider under revocation or suspension of their license or registration status with the MS Department of Health, Division of Child Care Licensure, or CCPP is disqualified.
    • Early Head Start or Head Start programs/grantees are not qualified.
    • Any program currently receiving state or local funding to cover operating expenses is not qualified, for example, Head Start programs, public Pre-K, etc.

Using Child Care Strong Funds:

How can I use these funds?

Per the American Rescue Plan Act language, child care providers must agree to use the funds for one or more of the following purposes:

Staff costs

Regular staff pay, benefits, premium pay (bonuses and/or raises), employee recruitment, and retention.

If the child care business is privately owned and operating as a sole proprietor or independent contractor, they may count themselves as an employee. Per the federal Office of Child Care, “Wages and benefits for child care program personnel, including increases in compensation for any staff in a child care center or family child care providers and their employees; health, dental, and vision insurance; scholarships; paid sick or family leave; and retirement contributions. Raising the wages of child care staff is a central part of stabilizing the industry, and lead agencies are strongly encouraged to prioritize this use of funds. Other examples of allowable personnel costs include ongoing professional development or training, premium or hazard pay, staff bonuses, and employee transportation costs to or from work. Child care providers may also use resources to support staff in accessing COVID-19 vaccines, including paid time off for vaccine appointments, managing side effects, and transportation costs to vaccine appointments. ARP Act Child Care Stabilization Grants | The Administration for Children and Families (hhs.gov)

Mortgage/rent, utilities, facility maintenance and improvements, or insurance. 

Includes payments made for a mortgage, rent, utilities, maintenance costs, and insurance required to provide child care services. Improvements may be made to playgrounds, bathrooms, and the building, such as installing ramps and automatic doors and removing non-load-bearing walls to allow social distancing.

Per the federal Office of Child Care, “Rent (including rent under a lease agreement) or payment on any mortgage obligation, utilities, facility maintenance or improvements, or insurance. It also may include late fees or charges related to late payment. Allowable facility maintenance and improvements may include but are not limited to building or upgrading playgrounds, renovating bathrooms, installing railing, ramps, or automatic doors to make the facility more accessible, and removing non-load-bearing walls to create additional space for social distancing. Lead agencies should strive to include renovations needed to comply with safety guidance in the context of developmentally appropriate practice and a welcoming environment for children and families. In addition, maintenance and minor renovations to address COVID-19 concerns are appropriate. 

Lead agencies are encouraged to support child care providers in making any facilities improvements that make child care programs inclusive and accessible to children with disabilities and family members with disabilities.” (CCDF-ACF-IM-2021-02, ARP Act Child Care Stabilization Grants | The Administration for Children and Families (hhs.gov)

Personal protective equipment, cleaning and sanitation supplies, services, or training/professional development related to health and safety practices. 

Includes purchases for PPE, cleaning, and sanitation supplies and services. Costs for staff training or professional development related to health and safety practices are also allowable.

Click here to view a COVID-19 Health and Safety Supply list created by our federal partners in the Office of Head Start. Head Start Forward: COVID-19 Health and Safety Supply List (hhs.gov)

Per the federal Office of Child Care: “Uses of funds under this category are not limited to those designed specifically in response to the COVID-19 public health emergency and may include equipment, supplies, services, and training that support meeting state and local health and safety guidelines, including those related to the prevention and control of infection diseases, prevention of sudden infant death syndrome and use of safe sleep practices, administration of medication (consistent with standards for parental consent), prevention and response to emergencies due to food and allergic reactions, building and physical premises safety, prevention of shaken baby syndrome and abusive head trauma and child maltreatment, response planning for emergencies from a natural disaster or a man-caused event, handling and storage of hazardous materials and the appropriate disposal of bio contaminants, appropriate precautions in transporting children, pediatric first-aid and CPR, and recognition and reporting of child abuse and neglect.” (CCDF-ACF-IM-2021-02, ARP Act Child Care Stabilization Grants | The Administration for Children and Families (hhs.gov))

Purchase of or updates to equipment and supplies 

Includes equipment and supply purchases made to respond to COVID-19.  Equipment and supplies may be for indoor or outdoor use as long as they are needed to meet new challenges related to COVID-19.  

Per the Federal Office of Child Care: “This category includes purchases of or updates to equipment and supplies to respond to the COVID-19 public health emergency.  So long as the equipment and supplies are in response to the COVID-19 public health emergency, they may include indoor and outdoor equipment and supplies that facilitate business practices consistent with safety protocols and developmentally appropriate practice, as well as business items needed to respond to new challenges, such as business software and upgrades. This also includes technological upgrades that programs can use to collect data and report to lead agencies.” (CCDF-ACF-IM-2021-02, ARP Act Child Care Stabilization Grants | The Administration for Children and Families (hhs.gov)) 

Goods and services necessary to maintain or resume child care services. 

Includes any good or service necessary to provide child care services.

This category may also include fees associated with licensing and items needed to meet licensing requirements.

Per the federal Office of Child Care: “This category includes any material good or service necessary for the operation of a child care program. We encourage lead agencies to treat this term broadly, in accordance with the breadth of the language used in the statute, so that child care providers can flexibly meet their individual needs. Examples of goods that might be necessary to maintain or resume child care services include food and equipment and materials to facilitate play, learning, eating, diapering, and toileting, or safe sleep. Examples of services that are allowable include business automation training and support services, shared services, child care management services, food services, and transportation. The category also covers fees associated with licensing and costs associated with meeting licensing requirements.” (CCDF-ACF-IM-2021-02, ARP Act Child Care Stabilization Grants | The Administration for Children and Families (hhs.gov))

Mental health supports for children and employees. 

Includes mental health consultation services for children and employees. May include fees associated with providing education to families and staff related to infant and early childhood mental health.

Per the federal Office of Child Care: “Providers may use these funds to support the mental health of children and employees. Infant and early childhood mental health consultation (IECMHC), an evidence-based, prevention-based strategy that teams mental health professionals with people who work with young children and their families to improve their social, emotional, and behavioral health and development in the settings where children learn and grow, is one example of an allowable mental health support. The well-being of caregivers is also important to stabilize the child care sector because the mental health and well-being of staff impact training, recruitment, retention, and the level of care provided to children. Mental health consultations for staff and other types of mental health supports to staff are also allowable.”  (CCDF-ACF-IM-2021-02, ARP Act Child Care Stabilization Grants | The Administration for Children and Families (hhs.gov))

Child Care Strong Awards:

Calculating Awards: 

Funding amounts are designed to provide operating expenses for a provider to cover a period of six months.

These payments will include a base award, with the possibility of additional funding amounts for providers who meet specific criteria.

Base Award Calculation

Several factors will be used to calculate the base award amount for qualified providers, including:

  • The cost of care for children in centers across the state identified in the most recent Market Rate Survey
  • The provider’s maximum capacity, as identified by the Mississippi Department of Health
  • The number of full-time vs. part-time center operations.

How much will I receive?

Funding awards for base rates will depend on several factors and are designed to provide operating expenses for a period of six months.  The base payment for awards will be based on information from the most recent Market Rate Survey regarding the cost of care for children in centers across the state.  Additionally, MDHS considered the maximum capacity identified by the information system with the Mississippi Department of Health, Division of Child Care Licensure to determine award amounts.  Full-time vs. part-time operating hours are also a factor.  Note: Due to available funding, no single provider can be awarded more than $400,000 for their base rate. The table below identifies the base award amount that providers will receive based on these factors:

Small Provider Operation Full-Time, Full-Year
(Licensed or Registered Capacity 0-16)
$1,061 per child, per month for six months
Small Provider Operation Part-Time, Full-Year
(Licensed or Registered Capacity 0-16)
$530.5 per child, per month for six months
Medium Provider Operating Full-Time, Full-Year
(Licensed OR Registered Capacity 17-37)
$776 per child, per month for six months
Medium Provider Operating Part-Time, Full-Year
(Licensed OR Registered Capacity 17-37)
$388 per child, per month for six months
Large Provider Operating Full-Time, Full-Year
(Licensed OR Registered Capacity 37+)
$730 per child, per month for six months
Large Provider Operating Part-Time, Full-Year
(Licensed OR Registered Capacity 37+)
$365 per child, per month for six months

Additional Bonus Funding Calculation

In addition to awarding grants based on provider size and operating schedule, MDHS will give bonuses to providers who meet the following criteria:

Providers who serve CCDF children will receive an additional $653.58 total (not per child).

Providers whose licensing/registration records indicate that they serve children with special needs (base rate + 10%)

Providers whose licensing/registration records indicate that they offer 24-hour care (base rate + 20%).

Providers who are operating in areas of the state identified as having the greatest number of social vulnerabilities, as determined by the Centers for Disease Control’s (CDC) Social Vulnerability Index (SVI) are eligible to receive additional supplemental funding.

Social vulnerabilities include low average income, housing shortage/inadequacies, transportation challenges, language barriers, etc.  The Centers for Disease Control have developed a Social Vulnerability Index for each state, county, and zip code in the United States.   MDHS will be giving bonuses to providers who are located in the most at-risk locations according to the Social Vulnerability Index. (The Social Vulnerability Index (SVI): Interactive Map | CDC):

  • In areas with an SVI of 0-0.49, providers will receive their base amount + 10%.
  • In areas with an SVI of 5-0.749, providers will receive their base amount + 20%.
  • In areas with an SVI of 75-1.0, providers will receive their base amount + 30%.

Examples of award calculations for providers meeting eligibility criteria:

Click below to learn more about each Provider’s award calculations

Provider 1
  • Is center-based
  • Is Licensed/Registered with the Mississippi Department of Health & Operating Full Time
  • Has a capacity of 13 children
  • Is a Child Care Payment Program provider
  • Has SVI Score of 0.75
Provider 2
  • Is center-based
  • Is Licensed/Registered with the Mississippi Department of Health and Operating Full Time
  • Has a capacity of 125 children
  • Offers 24-Hour Care
  • Has SVI Score of 0.6
Provider 3
  • Provides care in provider’s own home
  • Is Registered with the Mississippi Department of Health and Operating Part Time
  • Has a capacity of 5 children
  • Has SVI Score of 0.7
  • Is a Child Care Payment Program provider

Use this calculator to estimate your award amount:

Applying for Child Care Strong Funding

All applications will close on January 31, 2022

Child Care Strong Application in English

Application Guide in English

Child Care Strong Application in Spanish

Application Guide in Spanish

Child Care Strong Application in Vietnamese

Application Guide in Vietnamese

Follow the steps below to prepare to apply:

  • Review eligibility guidelines to ensure eligibility. To find out if your provider type is eligible, click here.  Additional eligibility requirements are posted on the Child Care Strong website.

  • Completed registration for direct deposit. All CCPP providers have received instructions via email.

    All NON-CCPP providers should start the registration process here. (https://app.smartsheet.com/b/form/fd38b1a9ccc44f15b0b1b0ab73ae05fb)

  • Calculate and track your monthly expenses for at least the last 3 months to get an average. Use this form (Family Child Care Expense Tracking Tool | Early Childhood Training and Technical Assistance System (hhs.gov)) to align and track your monthly expenses according to the Child Care Strong allowable expense categories.

  • Use the Child Care Strong Award Estimation Tool above to compare your estimated base rate to your average monthly expenses. NOTE: Due to funding limitations, no base rate may exceed $400,000 total or $66,666.67 per month.

  • Email Childcarestrong@mdhs.ms.gov for help with any of these steps.

FAQs:

All providers will be required to complete and submit an application for funding.

If a provider’s per month cost of operating is in excess of the estimated monthly amount included in per child rate table above, they must provide documentation of one month’s operating expenses to be eligible for an increased award amount. To determine this, providers should refer to the posted per-child rates above to identify the rate that applies to their program. That amount should be multiplied by their maximum child capacity to determine the estimated monthly expense amount offered by this program. Example:

  1. Licensed capacity is 23 children.
  2. Program operates fewer than six hours per day. (This is part time)
  3. The per child rate for this size center that operates part time is $388 per child.
  4. The provider multiplies capacity (23 children) by the per child rate ($388) and determines a monthly estimated expense amount of $8,924.
  5. The provider compares this amount to their records of operating expenses to determine if this estimated amount is equal to or more than their monthly operating expenses. If the estimated expense amount is lower than the provider’s documented monthly expenses, they have the option to upload documentation to support this claim.

Providers are required to be open AND serving children during the grant period.

Providers are required to operate in accordance with state and local requirements and, to the greatest extent possible, guidance from the CDC as related to Covid-19 protocols (Guidance for COVID-19 | CDC).

Providers may not decrease salaries or weekly wages or benefits for any employee during the grant period.

Providers are encouraged not to collect copayments or tuition payments from families during the grant period to the extent possible and prioritize such relief for families struggling to make either type of payment.

If a provider is unable to provide relief from tuition payments for all families enrolled in the program, they should prioritize doing so for families most in need and target families earning below 85 percent of the State Median Income.

Providers will have to submit monthly reports detailing how funding was spent.

Providers will remain eligible during a temporary closure due to positive COVID-19 outbreaks within the program.

Yes.  Providers may receive subsidy payments during the grant period.

No.  Base award amounts will be issued based on a provider’s allowed capacity; however, providers do not have to have full enrollment in order to receive the full award amount.

Yes.  Providers may receive funds under this award even if they have received federal funds issued through the Small Business Administration.

All Child Care Strong funds will be issued through direct deposit. All CCPP-approved providers have received instructions on registering for direct deposit for their subsidy payments and should follow those instructions.

All NON-CCPP-APPROVED providers must click here to begin the registration process.

A provider not meeting the requirements for receipt of funds under this award will have future award payments stopped, prior payments recouped, and/or submitted to the Office of Inspector General for additional investigation.

Programs should plan to expend these funds during the grant period if at all possible. All funding must be expended by September 30, 2022. Programs are allowed to use these funds as reimbursement for any allowable use not already covered by other federal funds occurring between March 2020 and the grant period.

Funds received under this funding are not a loan and will not be paid back as long as funds were expended for allowable uses by eligible providers within the allowable timeframe. All funds must be spent by September 30, 2022. Any funds not expended by this deadline will be returned to MDHS.

Child Care Strong

  • Utilizes American Rescue Plan funds
  • Is issued monthly over a period of six months
  • Per child amount ranges from $365-$1,061
  • Is based on the providers’ current operating expense
  • Is open to all eligible providers

VS

Booster Shots

  • Utilized Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act funds
  • Was issued in a single lump sum
  • Per child amount was $150
  • Was issued solely on provider capacity
  • Was issued solely to eligible providers participating in the Mississippi Child Care Payment Program

Funding will be issued prior to the first month of the award period. Once a Child Care Strong application has been approved, a provider will receive an email notification containing monthly award amounts and a notice of the next date for release of funding. Initial award funds will be released on or about the 20th day of the month prior to the first award month. Ongoing funding will be released on or about the 20th day of each month.

Please use the following schedule to determine when payments will begin once an award notice has been received.  NOTE: Funding cannot be disbursed until registration for direct deposit has been successfully completed and the applicant’s status is listed as “Registered Active”.  Funding for awarded providers will be held until direct deposit is available.

Application Approval Notification Date Direct Deposit Release Date
Between December 6-31, 2021 20-Jan-22
Between January 1 – February 3, 2022 20-Feb-22
Between February 4 – March 2, 2022 20-Mar-22

All awards will continue to be released on the 20th day of the month until six payments have been issued to the awardee.

State or town property taxes, on their own, are not among the purposes which ARPA Stabilization Funds are authorized.  However, if property taxes were paid pursuant to an escrow agreement as part of the provider’s mortgage, then they could be considered a payment on a “mortgage obligation.” Business taxes are likewise not among the allowable purposes. However, payroll taxes paid on behalf of employees, such as for Social Security, Medicare, or unemployment, would be considered personnel costs.

The ARP Act does not exempt the APRA Child Care Stabilization funding from taxation. Therefore, this funding is subject to the same tax rules as regular CCDF funding (child care financial assistance program). State tax rules apply. Regarding federal tax rules, please contact the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) for guidance. In some cases, funds used to cover operating expenses may be exempt from taxation. For further information about how these funds will impact your business, please talk to your accountant.

Yes. You can use the funds to cover costs incurred after the declaration of the public health emergency on January 31, 2020, for any of the uses of funds outlined above, as long as those uses were made in response to the COVID-19 public health emergency (including child care operating expenses related to rent and mortgage and facilities; personal protective equipment, sanitation, and health and safety; equipment and supplies; goods and services; and mental health services as described above) and they were not covered by any other state or federal funding.

The following are examples of minor renovations, which are allowable expenses: 

  • Upgrading the kitchen to add safe electrical outlets and fix plumbing fixtures.
  • Installing new HVAC to improve ventilation.
  • Installing smoke detectors, a sprinkler system, or other fire warning device.
  • Installing secure storage for hazardous materials.
  • Replacing or installing cabinets to provide adequate storage space for each child’s personal belongings.
  • Remediating lead paint and/or lead pipes.
  • Repainting walls with non-toxic paint.
  • Improving food preparation areas.
  • Installing room dividers.
  • Improving internal play space.
  • Installing age-appropriate plumbing, such as child-sized toilets and sinks.
  • Purchasing materials and play equipment to improve outdoor spaces.
  • Install plexi-glass barriers to a program entrance.
  • Expand outdoor play and gathering spaces.
  • Replacing windows or doors.
  • Completing minor roof repair.
  • Removal of non-load bearing walls to create additional space for social distancing.
  • Updating sidewalk to provide a safe pathway for children.
  • Installation of rails and ramps to increase accessibility for individuals with disabilities.

Major renovations or the purchase or improvement of land are NOT allowable expenses. Major renovations are defined as: (1) structural changes to the foundation, roof, floor, exterior or load-bearing walls of a facility, or the extension of a facility to increase its floor area; or (2) extensive alteration of a facility such as to significantly change its function and purpose, even if such renovation does not include any structural change.

You may use these funds to reimburse yourself for prior expenses for mortgage or business-owned vehicle loans from January 31, 2020 through the end of the grant funding period as long as those prior payments were not made with any other federal funding.

A business-owned vehicle is defined as one whose title/loan is in the name of the business and is used 100% for business purposes.  The vehicle may not be used at all for personal reasons to be considered a business-owned vehicle for these purposes.  

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