MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Child care providers in Minnesota can now apply for grants to get direct monthly payments to help stabilize their businesses as the economy recovers amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Gov. Tim Walz announced Wednesday that child care providers have access to a $300 million state grant program that will last through June of 2023. The program will help child care providers pay their workers and ensure benefits.

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“Minnesota’s economy depends on the availability of child care,” said Human Services Commissioner Jodi Harpstead, in a statement. “By stabilizing the child care industry and putting more money in child care workers’ pockets, these grants support a critical sector of our workforce.”

Child care providers eligible for the grants must be licensed, certified or registered and in good standing with the Department of Human Services, the governor’s office says. Grant payments will be determined by how many employees the provider has, with the state paying $430 a month for each full-time worker. Child care programs that serve families with low incomes, including those in the Child Care Assistance and Early Learning Scholarship programs, could qualify for higher amounts.

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Per state guidelines, at least 70% of the direct payments must be used to pay or improve benefits for workers. The remaining money can then be used for personal protective equipment, rent, utilities, and other expenses.

Funding for the grant program comes from the American Rescue Plan, the $1.9 trillion federal COVID-19 relief bill passed earlier this year.

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