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Idaho State Journal

JFAC votes to accept millions in federal grants for Idaho child care providers



BOISE — The budget writers of the Joint Finance and Appropriations Committee voted Tuesday to accept the last distribution of a federal grant for child care providers.

However, the funding will be distributed by the Department of Labor rather than the Department of Health and Welfare over concerns that the health department distributed federal funds to some ineligible providers in a different grant program.

When the health department’s division of welfare budget passed Feb. 27 without the grant included, there was significant pushback from advocates in the child care industry, KTVB reported. The funds would have expired at the end of the fiscal year. This program was meant for supporting child care providers as well as offsetting child care costs for low-income families so they may continue working or re-enter the workforce, according to the Legislative Budget Book.

The committee voted 16-3 to allow the labor department to distribute $28 million in federal American Rescue Plan Act, or ARPA, funds.

The same source of funding was also used for the health department’s Community Grant program for after-school funds — in February, JFAC authorized an audit of the program because of concerns over ineligible organizations receiving money. The audit is still underway, but the department identified about $14.4 million that went to ineligible organizations; the agency is expected to recoup these funds.

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