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Child care funding ending: providers fear loss of American Rescue Plan money that "kept the lights on"

What's next for one Philly area childcare provider as pandemic-era emergency funding set to end
What's next for one Philly area childcare provider as pandemic-era emergency funding set to end 02:09

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) -- Pandemic-era emergency funding for the child care sector is set to end this weekend.

According to a recent report – this all could lead to an estimated 70,000 child care centers to close, leaving more than 3 million children without access.

Some are calling it a child care cliff.

"The child care cliff for us means a rollback of funding that would cause us to close," said Mary Graham, executive director of the Children's Village Child Care Center.

"Will we all close on Monday? No, we're closing slowly," Graham said.

The nonprofit in Chinatown has served the community for nearly 50 years.

The American Rescue Plan Act under the Biden Administration in 2021 gave nearly $40 billion to the child care sector.

According to federal data, nearly $730 million of that funding was allotted to more than 6,800 child care programs here in Pennsylvania.

Children's Village Child Care Center included.

"The support came from the federal government and it was a win. We need the wins to continue," Graham said.

"There was money that went directly to programs," added Diane Barber with the Pennsylvania Child Care Association. "Stabilization funding that would pay personnel costs, recruitment and retention. It kept the lights on."

Barber notes an immediate impact won't be felt in the state over the loss of funding.

Instead it'll happen over time, through attrition, she says. 

And it's already started. In the last three weeks, she notes, seven centers closed.

"We can tie all of that back to staffing," Barber said. "They don't have enough staff to keep classrooms open. And then while they may have waiting lists, there's no place to put them."

Both Barber and Graham hope future funding for the industry is on the horizon.

"In 30 years we have never seen, I've never seen it where we are today," Barber said.

Earlier this month, new funding was proposed at the federal level.

It would allocate $16 billion to the child care industry every year for the next five years.

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