PROVIDENCE, RI – Research shows that high-quality, affordable child care is a significant factor in family well-being and economic stability. And high-quality child care programs in safe, quality facilities that are staffed with skilled educators are a critical part of the state’s early learning system, helping children learn and develop skills necessary to succeed in school and life.
In an effort to ensure Rhode Island’s child care and early learning facilities are high-quality centers that encourage growth and success, U.S. Senators Jack Reed and Sheldon Whitehouse today announced $500,000 for the Rhode Island Department of Human Services (DHS) to support early learning providers looking to expand or enhance their spaces. This federal funding was secured by Senators Reed and Whitehouse as an earmark in the FY2023 Consolidated Appropriations Act (Public Law No. 117-328).
“Top-notch child care makes a world of difference for families in Rhode Island, helping them put their children on the path to success with early learning opportunities and strengthening their economic security. I was proud to help secure this funding to ensure Rhode Island’s early learning facilities and child care providers have the resources they need to upgrade their facilities and pave the way for future growth,” said Senator Reed.
“Every kid in Rhode Island deserves a strong start, and every parent should have reliable child care options so they can earn a living,” said Senator Whitehouse. “We are pleased to deliver this federal funding for early learning providers and child care facilities to ensure that every kid has access to high-quality care in a safe and appropriate setting.”
“Research shows that high-quality child care spaces matter for early childhood development, yet many early childhood organizations do not have the capital they need to conduct pre-development work to expand or improve their space. This funding fills an important gap and sets early learning facilities up for future investment and future success,” said Governor Dan McKee. “We are grateful to Senators Reed and Whitehouse for bringing this critical funding to improve child care facilities to Rhode Island.”
“On behalf of the RI DHS, I would like to express my thanks and appreciation to Senators Reed and Whitehouse for securing this critical funding and their ongoing support for child care here in the state,” said DHS Director Kimberly Merolla-Brito. “With these new funds, we can continue to strengthen our ongoing commitment to the development and growth of the children and the facilities where they learn.”
A comprehensive needs assessment of early learning facilities completed in 2019 found that more than 60% of Rhode Island’s early learning facilities are in poor repair. Furthermore, children who utilize the Child Care Assistance Program are ten times more likely to be in a building in need of repair. In 2021, Rhode Island voters approved a $15 million Early Learning Facilities Bond to support development of early learning spaces. While this bond funding has been fully committed to date, in that process, DHS identified that many providers did not have the resources needed to develop comprehensive plans to apply for the bond funding, limiting the expansion of quality spaces for child care in Rhode Island.
These federal funds will be used by DHS to help early learning providers prepare for expansion and be ready to utilize future bond funding or other investment opportunities. DHS will use this earmark to provide planning grants directly to providers, building on the successful program model developed with federal Preschool Development Birth through Five Renewal Grant funds. These planning grants will range from $10,000 to $40,000 and will help DHS create a pipeline of applicants ready for expansion and improvement.
To date, DHS has assisted 15 providers with planning grants and has demonstrated success in identifying projects, reviewing proposals, and delivering quality plans that are ready for investment. This earmark secured by Senators Reed and Whitehouse will allow DHS to build on this success and ensure more providers are in a position to expand or improve their facilities, thereby increasing quality of early learning facilities across Rhode Island.
Chip Unruh (Reed), (202) 224-4642
Meaghan McCabe (Whitehouse), (202) 224-2921