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Walz outlines plans to use federal funding for education, childcare

Gov. Tim Walz announced Friday how he plans to use funds from the CARES Act.

Gov. Tim Walz has announced how he wants to use a tranche of federal funding earmarked for education and childcare during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Minnesota has already received $91 million for education and childcare through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) act, and now has to figure out how it will be spent.

Of this, $48 million is earmarked for childcare via a federal Child Care Development Block Grant, while the other $43 million is from the federal Governor’s Emergency Education Relief (GEER) funds.

Gov. Tim Walz and Lt. Gov. Peggy Flanagan have asked the Legislature to approve the spending of the grants in the following ways.

$43 million for education

  • Prioritizing spending on technology for K-12 students to assist learning.
  • Summer school programming for students who need additional support over the summer months.
  • Wrap-around supports like those students would receive in a full-service community school.
  • Directing a portion of GEER funds to support students in higher education, which would include spending on critical technology needs for students and Minnesota Tribal Colleges, as well as targeted support of teacher preparation programs and postsecondary faculty.

$48 million for childcare

  • Put in place support programs to reduce childcare costs of frontline essential workers during the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Increase funding for peacetime emergency child care grants to keep childcare facilities open for the children of essential workers, including school-age programs during the summer.
  • Provide more flexibility for childcare providers service lower-income working families, which can fund absent days, pay for second providers, and support those temporarily closed.

Gov. Walz has also asked the Legislature to approve increasing rates for providers in the Child Care Assistance Program, which is included in his supplemental budget request. If it doesn’t pass, the state could lose $5.5 million from CDDBG funds.

Walz, a former teacher, also signed an executive order Thursday allowing schools to use a combination of distance learning and in-school instruction. 

Schools have emphasized exacerbated disparities during distance learning, including unequal access to technology and inadequate support for students with special needs.

While demand for childcare has increased from families of essential workers, many child care providers say they're on the brink of closing as they've lost revenue from regular clients, who now stay home with their children. 

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