SANTA CLARA COUNTY, Calif. (KGO) -- On Tuesday, Santa Clara County and Valley Health Foundation launched a $15 million grant program to boost child care.
In the county, officials say more than 700 licensed child care facilities closed over the last 10 years, 161 shut down during the pandemic.
The Child Care and Early Education Infrastructure Grant Program can help renovate, reopen, or expand existing operations.
Supervisor and Board President Susan Ellenberg said right now the county has 2,000 children holding state funded vouchers ready to pay for child care - but there are no facilities to take them.
They're hoping the announcement will get the word out so providers can apply.
"Our Chief Children's Officer Sarah Duffy noted that all applications must be in by mid-November so today - today is the moment to move on this and I've been told that we have already received 140 inquiries just this morning," Ellenberg said.
Sarah Duffy said this grant program aims to help early learning professionals and increase access to child care for infants and toddlers.
Funds can go toward operating costs like rent, mortgage, insurance or wages to hire staff.
The grants are available to childcare providers who operate out of homes or commercial spaces.
"A geographic and equity lens will be a key component of the application selection process. And to ensure the county has broad reach, applications will be made available in Spanish and Vietnamese and other language supports will be available as requested," Duffy said.
Patricia Moran has 14 kids enrolled in her home daycare center in San Jose. Her youngest enrolled is seven months old.
Every day, she's getting calls from parents looking for childcare. Her doors are open to accommodate different schedules.
"A mom, sometimes she brings the children in 5:30 in the morning and then I have another mom who sometimes, she's coming to pick up her children at 6 p.m.," Moran said.
Moran said she has applied to other grants in the past but either missed the deadline or the requirements were too complicated. She plans to apply to this grant and said it will not only help her daycare center but so many others.
"In my case it's going to help me a lot, I have carpets I want to change it. I want to improve my bathroom. My house is a 100-year-old house. And with the children I need to keep everything in order," Moran said.
During Tuesday's program announcement, DeAnza College student and mother of two, Jocelyn Arenas described her experience just finding the right care for her family. She had to reach out to her sister for help.
"I had absolutely no idea where to start - I didn't know what to look up, I didn't know where to look and at the time my son had only been with me, he had never been anywhere else and so she told me - look up Choices for Children," Arenas said.
Arenas was able to get fulltime child care from a provider she chose.
"For myself, it means a lot to have child care I can count on. There's a lot of bad stuff that happens in the world and I've experienced a lot of trauma myself, so I'm very picky about where my kids go to school cause I don't want them to experience anything similar," Arenas said.
Arenas is a member of Parent Voices Silicon Valley and several other boards and organizations. She credits the stipends she's received that has allowed her to pay for the childcare she has.
Santa Clara County officials say the grant aims to increase the supply of available centers and improve this vital resource.
There's a high need for more centers in Gilroy and South San Jose.
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