Lessons from the CCSA COVID-19 Relief Fund: Planning for the Future

CCSA partnered with Smart Start in March 2020 to create the CCSA COVID-19 Relief Fund to support child care programs during the COVID-19 pandemic. In June 2021, CCSA reached out to all child care programs that were awarded Phase II CCSA COVID-19 Relief Fund grants and interviewed administrators at 17 of the 41 programs. Throughout the interviews, grantees remarked on the stress and challenges of the past year and expressed the gratitude they felt that CCSA acknowledged their contributions to communities and families during the COVID-19 pandemic.

This report discusses key themes that emerged from the interviews, with a focus on the impact of CCSA COVID-19 Relief Fund Phase II grants on child care programs, how grantees are faring one year after applying for funds, and grantees’ plans moving forward.

Key findings include

  • Child care programs adapted during the COVID-19 pandemic to meet the changing needs of children and families. Child care programs supported online learning and provided emotional and financial support to children and families during the pandemic.
  • As restrictions lift and parents return to in-person work, demand for child care has returned to pre-pandemic levels. However, staffing shortages force child care programs to limit the number of children they can enroll. Low wages for child care employees are the primary barrier to recruiting quality staff.
  • The increased use of cleaners and disinfectants damaged toys and other classroom supplies. Child care programs expect that replacing toys and supplies will be financially difficult.
  • Child care programs permanently adopted best practices during the COVID-19 pandemic to better communicate with families electronically and to keep children and staff healthy and safe.

About the author

Anna Sucsy is an Early Childhood Policy Intern at Child Care Services Association (CCSA) with Marsha Basloe, President of CCSA, and a Master of Public Affairs candidate at the University of Wisconsin–Madison. At CCSA, Anna’s work focuses on early care and education and child and family homelessness. Prior to joining CCSA, Anna worked for the Prenatal-to-3 Policy Impact Center at The University of Texas at Austin where she researched policies relating to family economic security, maternal and child health, and early care and education. Her primary interests include early childhood policy, inequality, poverty and family self-sufficiency, and translating research-based best practices to policy audiences.