San Mateo County COVID-19 Child Care Relief Fund

Even before COVID-19, the child care industry was precarious, with programs operating on narrow margins and staff earning poverty wages. During the pandemic, child care programs faced declining revenue, increased costs and an increased risk of closure given the (a) lost income due to low utilization by families who wish to keep their children out of group care settings in view of risks of transmission of COVID-19; (b) physical distancing requirements necessitated by the pandemic that limit enrollment while increasing staffing; (c) significantly altered scheduling and facility use due to the pandemic; and (d) cost of increased training and supplies required to maintain safe spaces for children and teachers due to the pandemic.

In spring 2020, the community recognized this challenge and advocated for the creation of a Child Care Relief Fund, to which Build Up was an early and crucial supporter and advocate. In response, the San Mateo County Board of Supervisors allocated $4.45 million of CARES Act funds in 2020 and 2021 to the Child Care Relief Fund. Champions went on to fundraise over $850,000 from private companies, foundations, cities, and other donors. The application opened on August 24, and checks were sent out one month later. Build Up served as a critical member on the application review panel that ultimately selected which providers would receive grants.

On September 24, the San Mateo Credit Union (now Monterra Credit Union) mailed the last grant, totaling 102 grants to 73 family child care homes and 29 child care centers serving 3,345 of the most at-risk children in San Mateo County. The program, which was administered by Community Equity Collaborative with vital support from Build Up, provided grants to cover one month of operating expenses of up to $55,000 for child care centers and $10,000 for family child care homes that have been adversely impacted by Covid-19. Of the 29 child care centers funded, 93% provided primarily full-time care, 76% were nonprofits, 20 provided infant care and 46% of the children served received federal/state subsidies. Of the 73 family child care home providers, 100% provided full-time care, 96% served infants, 20 participated in Quality Counts (a state initiative that supports programs committed to investing in the quality of their early learning and care), half were women-owned and 28% were immigrant-owned.

Recognizing the continued financial strain on families, Build Up continued to advocate for additional relief funds for child care providers. This included working with local government and private donors to increase the availability of subsidized child care slots in San Mateo County. Notable contributors include tech companies Google and Facebook; foundations such as the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, San Bruno Community Foundation, and the Community Foundation of San Carlos; the cities of San Mateo (which directed $300,000 of Community Development Block Grant funds to the initiative) and San Carlos; utility company Calwater; and New Community Church based in Menlo Park. In the end, Build Up was a vital part of the team that worked to award approximately $5M in grant funding to child care centers and family child care homes, serving over 8,000 of the most vulnerable children in SMC.

Read the Impact Report here.