Some Fort Bend families could get help paying for child care, thanks to more than $2 million the county received in federal funding.

The funds will go to extend the county’s Child Care Program and is available to qualified applicants.

Jayme Gorka, director of Good Beginnings Child Care Center in Rosenberg and mother to four children, spoke for many parents and child care providers at a Tuesday county news conference praising the federal funding and her local leaders for bringing help to so many of its residents.

“I had a loss of income and birthed two twins last year and the child care program has helped me out immensely along with other parents, especially those single mothers who are the breadwinners in their homes,” Gorka said. “It’s helped our center as well and we thank the county for allocating those funds to help us and so many others stay afloat.”

During a news conference, County Judge KP George called Tuesday “a very special day” for Fort Bend County and its residents.

Since COVID’s arrival to Fort Bend County in mid-March 2020, county staff searched for all options to swiftly repair their community.

“We got numerous requests from our task force and found a genuine need for daycare service because many times if you can’t afford to send the children to daycare, that means you can’t work and the daycare is struggling,” George said. “The idea was how can we help the families struggling to manage the pandemic here in Fort Bend County.”

The county’s task force consisted of parents, child care center representatives, local school officials, county social services and community partners such as the University of Houston. George said.

The county began with a $250,000 balance for childcare-related support from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act in March.

More than 300 qualified families with 540 children and 80 child care centers benefited as a result of March’s funding, George said.

Parents received a voucher for up to $500 for up to three children per family which could be used on a participating, licensed child care facility in Fort Bend County, George said.

Program Administrator Qaisar Imam called the increased funding a blessing and opened the application process to a wider range of families heading towards next week.

“Starting next week, we are going to have concrete guidance and details as well as instructions for how to continually apply for this program,” Imam said. “Because we had limited funding, we put up strict parameters on how many times a family could apply. With the added funding and potentially more, we will still allow families to catch up with their costs at the centers to apply again.”

If a greater need is found, George ensured the public he would return to Commissioners Court to attempt to get more federal money approved.

“This is all about bringing stability to our community,” George said during Tuesday’s news conference. “Stability is good for our citizens, businesses and so many levels. Financially challenged families came to me saying they could not pay for their costs and they were staying home. This we hope will help our child care providers get paid for the services they are providing.”

The application portal will go live on Monday at www.coronavirusfortbend.gov.

Applicants must be residents of Fort Bend County, have a child under 13 years old, meet specified income criteria and have experienced income loss due to the coronavirus pandemic, George said.

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