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Erie County to spend $25 million on child care

Some of they money will go to the providers, while another portion of the fund will expand the child care subsidy to more families.

ERIE COUNTY, N.Y. — With parents struggling with child care as kids go back to school there's help on the way from Erie County.

Erie County leaders announced Thursday that the county will spend $25 million of the COVID-19 relief funds from the federal government for local child care aid.

Some of the money will go to the providers, while another portion of the funds will expand the child care subsidy to more families.

Credit: Image Provided by Erie County

Ahead of the school year, child care facilities like Jumped Up Jellybeans on Hertel Avenue in North Buffalo have been making changes, but that comes at a cost.

"A lot of these parents are now relying on us to facilitate their children's schooling but it's challenging, nothing matches up, I have two city of buffalo children, I have two different charter school kids," said owner Danielle Kinsman.

Kinsman told 2 On Your Side that she's fielded more questions from parents leading up to the start of school than at any point during the pandemic.

She didn't know about the new funding until Thursday night but is encouraged and says it will go towards, sustainable internet for kids, more cleaning supplies, and potentially more staff.

"I applied for CARES Act funding but still haven't received anything," Kinsman said.

"I feel like being in the county hands it feels a little more tangible and eventually it's going to trickle down the chain to businesses who really need it."

A survey of 7,000 parents conducted by Erie County found the majority of families feel the existing child care infrastructure is "nowhere near sufficient" for when kids head back to school.

In addition to supporting businesses like Jumped Up Jellybeans, the county plans will also go towards creating virtual learning support centers around the county.

The centers will work with school districts and Erie 1 and Erie 2 BOCES to support students learning at home.