Rochester Area Community Foundation recently received a $384,000 grant from the Ralph C. Wilson Jr. Foundation to support small, home-based child care providers through its Small Grants for Small Children program.
RACF will work with Child Care Council Inc. and Community Action of Orleans & Genesee Inc. to distribute grants of up to $2,000 to nearly 200 home-based child care providers across Genesee, Monroe and Orleans counties. Providers will have flexibility to use the funds as they see fit.
“In-home child care has always been in demand, but the pandemic has more families looking at home-based options as a way to minimize their children’s exposure to large numbers of other children and adults,” said Jennifer Leonard, RACF president and CEO. “This sudden need by families during an already difficult time has placed a great deal of strain on home care providers who want to help.”
Providers are struggling to accommodate families and balance this with their own needs for reliable income and fears of being exposed to COVID-19.
Most challenged are the in-home programs that serve three to 12 children. Currently, they are ineligible for many of the federal and state supports available to small businesses. This is exacerbated by the fact that most programs supporting small business do not have child care on their radar.
This grant is part of the Ralph C. Wilson Jr. Foundation’s $1 million investment to support the small, home-based child care providers across western New York. Grants also went to the Community Foundation for Greater Buffalo, Chautauqua Community Foundation and Cattaraugus Community Foundation. This program is modeled after the long-standing Small Grants for Small Children developed by the Adirondack Foundation.
“Child care is essential now more than ever,” said Amber Slichta, vice president of programs at the Ralph C. Wilson Jr. Foundation. “Small, home-based child care providers rarely qualify for support and, in turn, do not view themselves as small businesses. It’s important that we continue to fill these gaps and uplift these providers, as they are often the only option for working families in rural areas and urban neighborhoods.”