ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10)- New York is accepting applications for $70 million in federal funding for newly licensed, registered, or permitted child care programs in areas of the state considered child care deserts. Funding is part of the $100 million set aside in the 2021 enacted budget to address child care deserts, made available through the American Rescue Plan Act.

Only certain areas are eligible for the funding and given an RFA score, based on U.S. Census Bureau metrics. Child care deserts are census tracts (areas) where there are three or more children younger than five years old for each spot available in child care, or there are no spots available. Although areas with a score of between 30-40 are considered child care deserts, only areas with a score of 30 are eligible for the grant.

Capital Region areas available for grant

CountyNumber of areas eligible for grant
(RFA score of 30 points)

“All parents deserve access to high-quality child care regardless of where they live, and this funding will help address critical child care shortages in underserved areas—supporting parents as they pursue an education, thrive in the workforce, and contribute to New York State’s economic rebirth,” Gov. Kathy Hochul said Monday.

Grant money can be used to cover start-up and personnel costs, as well as recruit, train, and retain staff. It can also be used to support staff in getting COVID-19 vaccines. The program will be administered through the Office of Children and Family Services (OCFS).

“Child care is critical to continue building back our economy, and our families need as much support as possible,” said OCFS Commissioner, Sheila Poole. “Too many of our families are struggling to find care, and these desert grants will allow new providers to fill access gaps. And OCFS has ensured that diversity and equity components are built into these grants.”

Applications can be submitted through May 19 on the OCFS website. Award announcements are expected to be made in June. Applicants must complete an online orientation before applying.