Applications are open for Starting Point’s Billie Osborne-Fears Child Care Scholarship Program.
The scholarships, named for a lifelong early childhood champion and the founding executive director of Starting Point, were recently expanded through a $1.9 million from federal American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) investment through the City of Cleveland to support children and working parents.
“We know families are struggling to pay for quality early childhood education, especially amid inflation and the expiration of additional pandemic benefits,” said Mayor Justin M. Bibb. “We know we have more to do, but this is a step in the right direction and the expansion of these scholarships could not come at a better time.”
Three categories of assistance are available under the expanded scholarship program. Bridge to Benefits offers initial support, up to 45 days, to pay for care while a family waits for publicly funded childcare (PFCC) benefits to be processed. Short-term scholarships offer up to 60 days of childcare for families returning to the workforce and continuous scholarships provide support for families over the income threshold for PFCC but under 200 percent of the income guidelines.
To receive a City of Cleveland scholarship, families must reside in Cleveland.
“There are many parents who make a little too much to access assistance to pay for childcare, but they still need support to make ends meet,” said Ward 7 Councilwoman Stephanie Howse, a leading supporter and advocate for the legislation required for this investment.
Briana Cannada, a parent and the chairperson for Louis Stokes Head Start Center, knows what that experience is like. At an event announcing the ARPA allocation last fall, she said she was earning $10.50 an hour when she was denied childcare assistance.
At the time, even the most affordable childcare option she could find cost a third of her income.
“We are grateful to the City for making this important investment in high-quality early childhood care and education,” said Starting Point President and CEO Nancy Mendez. “I look forward to being able to bring additional children into our centers as well as helping parents get back into the workforce.”
For information on eligibility, the types of scholarships offered, and to apply, visit Cleveland Child Care Scholarship – Starting Point (starting-point.org).
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