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Pinellas County offering help for struggling nonprofits and childcare centers due to COVID-19

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Posted at 7:23 PM, Aug 06, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-06 19:23:23-04

PINELLAS COUNTY, Fla. -- There is some help available for childcare providers struggling to stay afloat in Pinellas County.

Pinellas County has approved $34 million in grant money to help support nonprofits and childcare centers who have been impacted by COVID-19.

Parents say the funding is much needed for essential childcare facilities.

"My husband is a nurse and works 12 hours a day, and I work from home," said Kylee Gutmann.

Gutmann says the teachers and staff who care for her two small children at Precious People Learning Center in Palm Harbor have been a lifeline for her family.

"They were considered essential workers and they were expected to be there. But it's so much more than that," said Gutmann.

Amy and Bobby Awrey have two small boys who go to Precious People. They say they love the early learning center and say more attention should be given to childcare and preschool programs where teachers and staff don’t get the same kind of support and funding as schools.

"Schools, no matter if they open or not, they’re probably going to open eventually. A lot of these early learning centers might not have that opportunity," said Bobby Awrey.

That’s why Pinellas County is partnering with the Early Learning Coalition of Pinellas County to make $4.6 million in grant money available to childcare organizations impacted by the pandemic.

"It’s long overdue," said Gutmann. "When the daycares reopened and the learning centers allowed the kids to come back, it was never talked about how those teachers were scared to return, or what type of funding they had."

Thanks to advocacy from the Early Learning Coalition of Pinellas County, the Pinellas CARES Childcare Provider grant will provide grants of up to $10,000 to childcare providers to cover wages, bills and safety supplies.

Applicants must be licensed, located in Pinellas County, and open serving children at the time of application. ELC will contact all eligible providers directly via email with application instructions.

Eligible providers that do not receive an email or need assistance applying can contact the ELC at 727-400-4436 or ceckrem@elcpinellas.org. Applications will be accepted starting Friday, August 7.