Using $ 50 million in federal money, lawmakers are expanding a child care subsidy program, enabling families to receive daycare assistance, even if they were previously considered too rich for the assistance.
The Nevada Child Care Fund will now be open to families earning $ 60,000 to $ 70,000 a year for a household of four, nearly double the previous income threshold, limiting access to families up to 130 percent of the poverty line ($ 36,075 a year for a family of four).
Leaders in child care services joined Governor Steve Sisolak at a Thursday press conference at the College of Southern Nevada (CSN) campus in North Las Vegas to encourage residents to apply for fitness immediately – even if they have not before not qualified. Northern Nevada and rural residents can apply to The Children’s Cabinet and Southern Nevada can apply to the Las Vegas Urban League.
“I encourage all of our Nevada families to review and apply the criteria,” Sisolak said. “If you do not apply, you can not get the benefits.”
Under the current arrangement, more than 5,000 children receive an average of $ 551 a month or their child care costs are fully covered by Nevada’s child care and development programs, Sisolak said. Childcare costs range from an average of nearly $ 9,000 per year in Nevada for a preschooler to about $ 12,000 per year for a baby in Clark County, which is about $ 1,000 per month.
The new funding will expand resources to 2023 more families by 2023.
“With the new funding for the Nevada Child Care Program, we will be able to cover more costs for more families and help more families get their children fully into child care without breaking the bank,” Sisolak said.
The funds, which come from the $ 160 million dollars of Nevada’s US rescue plan funding that Sisolak announced earlier this year, will be allocated to strengthen child care and make it more robust.
He said state leaders would continue to expand early childhood programs with different partners and seek more money to strengthen long-term child care.
Michael Tomas Mitchell, director of early childhood care at CSN and a child care practitioner in Clark County for 13 years, said the recent expansion places a much-needed focus on the sector.
“A child who was in [early childhood education] for three years, on day one in kindergarten, they will be on a completely different socio-emotional and academic level than a child who had no exposure, ”Mitchell said.
He said in the past, leaders have apparently viewed child care as an individual concern. Mitchell said child care is critical to child development and that it is actually a social justice issue that deserves systemic support.
He said he hopes the steps announced Thursday will drive Nevada toward universal pre-K as proposed by the Biden administration, instead of waiting for it to succeed at the federal level.
“We need as many entities and programs as possible to come together so we can get to the point where universal pre-K is truly a real option for Nevada citizens,” he said.
Even with the positive aspects of enlargement, leaders agree that more is needed. In Nevada, there are many zip codes that are child care deserts, meaning that for every slot available for early childhood education, there are three children waiting.
With the new funding and expansion, Mitchell said he hopes day care in Nevada and at CSN will get a more income-diverse population, especially at the North Las Vegas campus, which serves students, staff and the community.
“Parents have an opportunity that did not exist two years ago, let alone 10 years ago,” Mitchell said. “And I like a lot of the trajectory and where we’re headed.”