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Lee CARES Childcare Assistance Program still has help availability for parents

Only 100 parents have been approved for the Lee CARES Childcare Assistance Program, which is supposed to help 2,000 children.

Before parents go back to work, they have two critical issues to solve: child care and safety, and safety may be one reason parents are hesitating to apply for help.

Minette Langston with the Wellington Academy said they’ve got the parents covered, starting with temperature checks and handwashing as soon as kids walk through the door.

Wellington put those procedures in place when the academy made the tough decision to stay open during the COVID-19 crisis.

“We felt very strongly that if we closed, then the nurses and the doctors and the first responders couldn’t go to work if they don’t have child care and they can’t do their jobs which benefits all of us,” Langston said.

The other reason could be skyrocketing unemployment, with many day cares like Wellington Academy reporting enrollment is down.

Lee County, through its Lee CARES Assistance Program, and the United Way are trying to help qualifying parents by paying for their child care, so they can work without fear.

“I think a lot of parents have not gone back to work or they’re still working from home or they’re just still maybe not comfortable,” Langston said.

The county program has more than 1,800 spots still available, and Langston hopes they fill up fast.

“We’re all in this industry because we have a huge love for the kids,” she said.

United Way partner agencies have established child care scholarship programs with funds from the CARES Act.

Parents whose income has been affected by COVID-19 and want to apply must show that they are back at work or have a date of when they are going back to work.

Childcare

Parents can call the United Way at 211 for help or call the day care of their choice directly to apply.

Here is an example of what the application looks like.

Also on Tuesday, the Lee Board of County Commissioners voted to approve a plan to allocate $3 million of federal funds from the CARES Act to support local food security organizations and to continue phasing in operations previously suspended due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The $3 million allocated to food security organizations benefitting citizens in need includes:

  • $1.55 million to Harry Chapin Food Bank of Southwest Florida;
  • $425,000 to Midwest Food Bank;
  • $225,000 to Community Cooperative;
  • $500,000 to Lee County food pantries through $5,000 individual grants; and
  • $300,000 to reserves.

The county said Tuesday they have received 13,871 applications for individual assistance in paying utilities, rent and mortgages. Of those, 4,923 applications have been completed.

The county has received 4,576 applications for the Business Relaunch Program and has distributed more than 1,000 kits of personal protective equipment to businesses with fewer than 25 employees.

Reporter:Dannielle Garcia
Writer:Jackie Winchester
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