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Wyoming's Child Care Relief Program Out Of Money Amid Growing Need

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Child care is a massive expense in the best of times, but as the pandemic surges across Wyoming, those costs have grown.The Child Care Relief Program will award roughly $1.25 million to more than 1,000 Wyoming families in the coming weeks, but the program is no longer accepting applications.

The program is funded by the state's federal CARES Act funding and is run by the state Department of Family Services. The department is hoping this money will help parents cover holding fees, babysitters, and other costs associated with child care.

Roxanne O'Connor, support services senior administrator with the Department of Family Services, said the current program is out of money, but the demand is only increasing.

"When we were planning in the summer, and when we launched in the fall, we didn't know we were going to see a surge like we're seeing now and in the past month or so," O'Connor said. "There still is a need because of the amount of spread and because of the surge that we're seeing."

She said children and families will need more support as the pandemic continues.

The Child Care Relief Program is given directly to families, but other CARES funding has gone to help out daycare centers and other childcare facilities facing closures, reduced capacity requirements and new sanitization measures.

"So the purpose of the child care relief program was to help offset some of that additional child care expense that we know families were experiencing and continue to experience, and help to provide a little bit of reprieve from additional expenses," O'Connor said.

The current funds will go to roughly 1,100 families and serve nearly 2,300 children.

Jeff is a part-time reporter for Wyoming Public Media, as well as the owner and editor of the Laramie Reporter, a free online news source providing in-depth and investigative coverage of local events and trends.
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