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Webinar Transcript | ARPA Stabilization Grant Update

So I want to welcome everybody to our American rescue plan act stabilization grants webinar, probably heard it referred to as ARPA stabilization grants.

And I’m going to just go through a couple of housekeeping things before turning it over to the deputy secretary.

Well, good evening everybody and thank you Karen for running down, sort of the rules of our operations here as we talk about the American rescue plan or ARPA we’re, we’re very much a system of acronyms so we call it APR, a lot when we’re having the conversation here internally. And we really appreciate your joining us this evening to talk about continued preparations for the stabilization grants that we’re getting ready to release later this month.

So if we could advance the slide.

So these are some of the things that will be covering this evening and some of them are just very practical calling to your attention some of the things that you should prepare for.

We’re going to reinforce and review some of the information that we’ve sent out around eligibility. We’re going to start to talk about the application process.

We’re going to talk about some of the things that we as the Office of Child Development Early Learning are obligated to do around receiving the money from the feds, as well as how it was authorized through the Pennsylvania legislature in terms of our budget process.

We’re going to talk about what some of the allowable uses are of these funds, how the money will be issued and the expectations around record keeping and reporting.

So we’re getting ready September is the month, and we appreciate and we’re certainly reflective of all the childcare providers in the Commonwealth but you are reflective of a lot of the providers in the Commonwealth. And we know since we issued the last payment for the coronavirus response and Relief Act in May that you have been very patiently and eagerly waiting for this application to be finalized and prepared to be issuing. So we’re just continuing our ramp up as we move through the process to get ready for the stabilization grants. And so, in this next section we’re going to talk about these things so if we move on to the next slide.

ARPA or the American rescue plan was authorized on March 11 of 2021, and it was very broad and continue to talk about the supports that were needed for various sectors in the educational realm and the social service realm and in childcare, and the law outlined the appropriate uses of funding that were allocated in the act. And then each agency at the federal level, who was responsible for the sub sections of the American rescue plan, further defined criteria for allowable uses of these funds as they were distributed to states. And so what we’re here this evening to talk about is the American Rescue Alan Act as it relates to Section 2202, or the childcare stabilization funds.

This is only a portion of the funding that’s coming to Pennsylvania to support childcare, and it’s the one that we were prioritizing to get reconciled and finalized out the quickest.

And so this date of authorization is important as we talked about some of the other elements in the stabilization grant process and so we have the federal administration and the legislature at the federal level to thank for this funding.

I think I covered a little bit of this in the last slide, but not only was the money, authorized at the federal level through ARPA, but because it was new money in the Pennsylvania State Budget specifically called out for stabilization grants. It also had to be authorized in Pennsylvania’s budget. And so in doing so, the legislator as part of the 21-22 budget authorized the ARPA funds for the stabilization grants as part of this year’s budget, and it set the eligibility to very much aligned with the federal eligibility. It also will require ARPA to have some additional reporting elements, beyond what the federal government is expecting, and it included in the authorization that as we were developing this grant process that we have a consideration for add-ons for providers who are serving infants and toddlers.

We’ve issued get ready communications over the past two weeks in terms of eligibility for these funds. And I don’t want to read the slides to you but I’m going to summarize them.

So the first piece is as I mentioned earlier, the date of enactment for the American rescue plan act that providers needed to have a regular or provisional Certificate of compliance, on or before the date of enactment which was March, the 11th of 2021. There is consideration for those providers that were licensed at that time but we’re temporarily closed for COVID. They are eligible to apply for these funds.

We have also issued companion announcements around the deadline to sort of re-engage with certification for temporarily closed providers, being September 30. So if you’re out there as part of our audience tonight and you have been temporarily closed because of COVID, it could be that you were part of a school district serving school age child care, or you might have been in a community where your business it really made sense for you not to operate during this time. Certification needs to hear about your intent to reopen this month. And that’s one of the things that we’ve talked about for temporarily closed providers communication with certification is critical, so please reach out to your certification office or your certification rep and talk about what your plans are to reopen.

At this time, and we’re going to talk aboutthe details of the grant later on, but when the grant does open here in a couple days, providers who are operating under a revocation or refuse to renew are not eligible to apply. Certainly under one of those criteria is the ability to appeal your revocation or your refuse to renew and you may have grounds to be successful in that appeal. If a provider has appealed and is successful in their appeal, they will be permitted to apply for these funds, once that appeal has been settled. So that’s another important piece to note about.

And then we received continual updates from the Federal Office of childcare, and the federal office issued sort of a separate communication saying that if a provider was being t investigated for fraud, we would not be able to issue the stabilization grants to them until their fraud investigation was completed and they were exonerated. And so as we continue to get any refinements from the Federal Office of childcare we would make those known to providers as well.

The thing that we have the opportunity here and I’m not sure if anybody out there is a relative childcare works participating provider, but this is a little bit different too because in our past issuance is a federal stimulus relative providers were not eligible to participate in any of the CARES Act or the CRRSA Act funding that we talked about before. And so, we will be communicating directly to relative providers, their processes a little bit different. So if you’re a relative provider who’s joined us this evening. This really is intended this evening for licensed childcare whether they’re a family provider, a group provider or center provider, your process will be slightly different. And so if you were hoping to hear more details around the relatives process. We wanted to make sure that you knew what we were getting into here.

There was a question about eligibility if you remain open but we’re waiting on an inspection renewal so that you basically operating on an expired license, are you considered eligible, you were considered eligible, really, and this we provided a link so if you didn’t hear Karen say not only are we recording and we’ll be posting this, there is a link in this material to the information memorandum that the Office of childcare issued. And one of the things that they clearly articulated in their guidance to states which we are taking to heart is the stabilization grant funding is really intended for providers who were operating through COVID-19, and those that are critical to their communities and are reopening that that they had to shut down because of COVID it very clearly says and a section of the announcement that this is not intended to fund new providers who are opening up after the date of enactment. And so that’s really one of the critical sort of litmus test for us, that you had a license whether the renewal was delayed because of the backlog related to face to face inspections, or the hybrid inspections, you are considered licensed and eligible so that’s a great question and we’ll make sure that we include that later on.

So there are there any other questions for the eligibility part Karen.

It’s not about eligibility but it is a quick question is asking if the funds or taxable.

Yes, but the funds will be taxable very similar to the other funds that you receive that originate in the office of childcare. So, we will be I think we have some information covering that later on.

And then there is another one on a star four license center and relocated my facility in July of 2021, my new license does not meet the date requirement mentioned but I continue to operate, am I eligible.

Yeah, so we have clarified that as well. When we talk about newly opened we mean you are just getting into the business or you are a new legal entity that purchase the business. We have had disposition from that and talking with legal. But if you moved or relocated, you are eligible to apply.

Okay, so let’s talk about our No, not yet. In June of 2021, they were, they were I’m assuming it was going to be. Yeah, it’s a new MPI they closed in 2021, but then reopened under a new MPI in July of 2021.

So I think we’re going to need to talk about that with certification just about what the guidance is in the verification. In my mind, if it is the same legal entity. I would want to lean forward with continuation. But if they’re not reopened. And that’s where we’re going to need to. So we’re going to take that and clarify in writing about what the circumstances are if your MPI number changed after March 11. I understand the question. So I just want to assure you that I get with the question.

So we’re going to move on. Sure. So let’s talk about the application so one of the things that the Office of Child Care stressed to states, is to the extent possible, really, really make this a simple process. And so we wanted to build on our. PD registry, which has the ability to create a grant functionality in it that we could pre populate a lot of the information that we know about your centers. So, the idea is that this is so simple that there are very few places where you actually have to enter information. And then there are places in the application process where you’re checking boxes. And it’s really about attestation process. And so that was really the intent of expanding the registry system to be able to manage this on our behalf.

One of the things we wanted to say is that the feds also asked states to make this a rolling application. And by rolling, often when we’re issuing funds, we say that you have to apply by a specific date. So for example if we’re opening this sometime in September we might say you have to make application by October 30, by rolling, what we mean is, we have a longer time frame that providers can choose to apply at a later date and we’re going to talk about some of those reasons why you may delay applications so that you’re not scrambling right away at the beginning to get in and apply and certainly you’re welcome to, but there may be some reasons why you might delay application.

And then the other piece around this as we talk about our early learning resource centers as our business partners. We have really been talking to them about the required outreach on their behalf. And so it’s really important to us because we have calculated the potential grants that are going out to providers for every eligible provider that we had in the system as of March 11. And so, there have been other instances where OCDEL and the ELRCs have made federal stimulus money available that some providers for various reasons and some of them, you know, to themselves or some of them are altruistic and wanting to provide support to people that are struggling more than they are. They’ve said No, thank you. We really need to be able to know for both the Pennsylvania legislature and the federal government, which providers are saying No thank you. And so there are two reasons for that. One to document that it’s a provider saying no, and two, its to ensure that everybody who is eligible, has the opportunity to apply. And so we will be working with the El RCS in the first couple weeks, just to get in and process applications, but as those applications slow down, then we’ll be asking them to shift into identifying who may not have made application and trying to understand whether they don’t want to apply, or whether they weren’t really aware of the opportunity or they might be struggling. And so the ELRC will really be doing outreach around that.

One of the resources that we’re working at finalizing is a no thank you form will be trying to include in our weekly messaging coming up that we understand that there are people that will say no thank you and in order for them not to sort of have those calls or emails soliciting whether or not they’re going to apply. They can just send the email off to the ELRC saying, you know, we’re not going to take advantage of this opportunity at this time. While the grant’s still open they can change their mind but at least the first step of us understanding when we’ve sort of reached the threshold of the people who are going to apply applying.

So Karen before I move on I just want to see if there’s anything relevant to hear that you’d like me to pause on it.

I think we’re still seeing some questions about eligibility but I think, again, your comments about, we’re going to need to follow up more closely with certification applied to all of those.

We did have a question do you have to have a star designation, or just a DHS certificate to be eligible or is eligibility requirement is just that you’re on a provisional or a full Certificate of compliance.

So, you do not have to have moved up in stars,

And someone is asking if every application will be approved.

So every eligible application will be approved, we always say, based on the availability of funds so that disclaimer is out there as applications are coming through. We check and recheck and check again, our calculations and our factoring when we’re projecting what providers are applying for. But in the event that we’ve miscalculated. We do always say, based on the availability of funds, but I will say at this time when we’ve projected what the demand will be on the applications, we’re going to talk a little bit about information that you’re putting into the system and one of those things is your enrollment there is a function of our calculation that is hinges on your enrollments. And we know that providers aren’t at full enrollment but we planned in the event that providers are up enrollment. So, if you are eligible, and the funding is available, you will be approved.

So there’s a couple of questions about just knowing whether or not they’ve completed everything that they need to complete in the registry. One is, how do I know that I completed all the information that I needed in the registry, and I’ve been having trouble logging on to the PD registry who do I contact, as every time I click the Contact Us button it takes me to the locate profile page. So what I can do, Trace is make sure that we provide the email to the registry staff in the chat and then that will also be included, when we send out the information following this webinar with the recording and everything we’ll make sure that we’re including that information for folks.

Sure. That’s a great idea and just, I’m going to say it in case people aren’t reading the transcript. Please put your questions in the question and answer box as opposed to the chat box. It’s difficult to manage both, and we’ll look at the questions in case we haven’t been able to answer them all from the q and a, to be able to follow up and do an FAQ when we’re done.

Someone is asking is if their application is denied is there an opportunity to reapply?

So there is an opportunity to talk about what the denial is related to, if there’s misinformation in there about the status of your certificate which really is the fundamental issue for licensed provider is the status of your certificate. So, if that were to be reconciled then yes you could reapply, I do have to say at this time for this wave of grants it’s one per provider. So, there’s not an opportunity to come back around and apply for a second funded application only once and done.

18:27:50 Okay. There are several other questions here  you’re going to get to that later. If I operated several locations under one legal entity Do I need to complete something for an application for all centers?

That is a great question and yes it’s location specific.

There are questions about the amounts, and what the application is based on but you’re going to cover some of that later about that and I do want to tell you because we’re not ready to release the amounts yet, that will be coming up in one of our Wednesday releases coming up but we’re not going to get to that this evening. So, I hate to disappoint all of you I just saw 675 people collectively grown.We’re not going to talk about the actual funding, but that is coming.

So let me keep going here Karen and we’ll see if we can address some of these other questions as we move through the process. So Jim.

So here are the things this is really like the beginning of the preparing for what you need to apply when the applications open. And as I mentioned earlier, a lot of the information about your program and we’ll make sure we get those links back out to you about if you’re troubleshooting, getting connected to the registry. But when the application opens. The first thing we want to know is the number of enrollments that you have. Now this is a point and we’re going to talk about this and review this later on, where you may choose to delay application, the enrollment that you have as of the date of application is an important part of the calculation for grants. So, I know right now that there are providers that are working on staff recruitment and they’re working on families coming back to enroll in their centers, and I’ll use the example that one of the reasons you may choose to delay is that today you have 75 children enrolled, but you know that in two weeks that’s going to bump up to 100 that may be one of the considerations that you and your team may want to think about. So, the enrollment on the date of your application is important. It’s also important that as we go through the application and as we go through the remainder of the PowerPoint.

We talked about documentation. So that’s one of the points that you’re going to want to might maintain some sort of record that would substantiate your enrollment as of the date of application so if you have a transcript or a printout of an enrollment, or an Excel spreadsheet or a sign in sheets, something that would indicate what your enrollment is to back that up.

The next thing that that is a requirement and it’s asked for in the information memorandum from the Office of childcare. In issuing these funds, where our past payments when we figured out the payment, we based that on your provider license type and then we bucketed you into categories based on your license capacity. This stabilization grant was really around the expenses that providers may be encountering right now. One of the options that was available to states was to actually make you apply and demonstrate all of your expenses. And so out of our nearly 6900 licensed providers, you would have been completing a much lengthier application and the approval process for that would have been much more burdensome and slower to get the money out.

One of the things that we were allowed to do was to develop a calculation that allowed us to use estimated expenses associated with the number of children that you have enrolled. And so we’ve done that and so we talked about formulas about how we will be modeling that, but the Office of Child Care wanted states to have a good idea about what expenses you all were experiencing. And so there are a couple of ways that you can give us your monthly expenses. We only need the dollar figure.

Many of you may be working with a business manager or tax preparer, who has the ability to give you what your expenses are from a 12 month period where you would divide that by 12 and give us that total.

You may go back and look at the month of August or the month of July, and calculate your expenses so your expenses are all of those things you all encounter to be able to operate your childcare business. It’s your personnel, their benefits, any, you know cost allocation of the cost of materials and supplies. If you’re purchasing meals. If you’re paying rent your utility bills. All of that comes together to get your expense calculation.

And so if you have a business manager that can help you with that. It’s a pretty easy we want a monthly average expense. And so again, I just want to stress the word average It does not have to be accurate, but this is one of the places where you want to have some sort of documentation around how you arrived at that monthly expense amounts. It does not factor into the grant award at all so this is just a data point that the Office of Child Care asked us to collect, we are not using the monthly expenses in the process. So I just want to be clear around that.

Then the information memorandum that came to states did have that we would collect very specific information. And so, those types of things are specifically, the owner or the operator. So, as you’re thinking about who will be applying whether it’s the director or an owner, the requirement to report on the race, ethnicity, and gender of the provider is part of the requirements that the Office of childcare laid out for states.

Additionally, whether you were open or were temporarily closed through the COVID health, public health emergency.

There will be information based on your center and that we have populating from Pelican, which will be your provider name, your address, those types of things will be ported into the system and there so it would be worthwhile for you to check and verify that information.

There is a section that says if you already know how you’re going to spend these funds. It’s not a commitment but it’s just we think we’re going to spend the funds in these categories, there is the opportunity to check across buckets of funding for you to say I’m going to use it all for personnel or I’m going to use part of it for personnel and part of it for materials and supplies. And if you don’t know and you’re going to wait until the process has been finalized. You can check I don’t know, this is just an estimation of how you’re going to use the funds.

So Jim if you advance.

Then there are some pieces in the federal legislation this actually comes from ARPA itself, that if you are operating that you have to attest that you’re complying with these recommendations or these requirements in the statute. And so there’s the piece about you’re operating in good standing. And so we’ve interpreted that in Pennsylvania that will be the regular Certificate of compliance or the Provisional certificate we covered that earlier but now you’re signing off that that you’re complying with that, and that you’re attesting to that so these are checkboxes within the system, and that you’ll continue to strive to meet all of the regulatory requirements that are part of the regulations that certify you so center regulations group or family childcare regulations.

18:36:26 Jim if you pass on to the next slide. These additional attestations are also included in the IM that to the extent possible, or that you are operating under the guidance of the CDC for the COVID 19 public health emergency. And that at the time of application and this is important as well, that you will pay at least the same level of weekly wages or higher wages. At the time of application for your staff, the Federal Office of Child Care and the authors of ARPA, were really interested in preserving staff hours and maintaining staff hours for providers that were working so they didn’t want to see staff being furloughed at the time the stabilization grants were being issue. This certainly does not mean that if you have an employee who is a performance issue and your center that you as an employer don’t have the right to make employment decisions for them, but on a whole that you’re attesting that your staffing levels and pay will be consistent.

You have the option to say that you will attest to utilizing the money to support families enrolled in your program, but this is to the extent possible. So, based on other priorities that you may have for the use of stabilization funds, this might not be one of the things that you are able to do.

Jim you can advance.

Then, this is really important, and we knew last fall when we issued the act 24 Cares Act funding, we were not clear ourselves when the funds were issued that there was going to be required reporting and we really struggled with getting people to comply and we had challenges with the system. I’m sure many of you can recall that and might have had issues yourselves, but we wanted to be up front before the grant application opened at all, that there is mandatory reporting that goes along with this grant. And as a systems support. We’ve designed the reporting in the PD registry. So, if you can access the system to apply for the grant, you’re accessing the system at the conclusion of the grant to report. And so this is a critical attestation in that everybody who’s applying for funds realizes that after the six month period, we recognize that there will be some time to spend the funds down, but within a time period, you know that you need to come back around and report on the entire amount of funds that you were awarded.

And then the last piece of this is because there was also in the federal language the criteria that there would be some sort of monitoring of the utilization of these funds and how ODEL and the ELRC is managed that is through a sampling process, very similar for those of you that have applied for various grants before we randomly selected each ELRC a certain percentage of providers that are monitored on the utilization of their funds and that’s why we talk about the documentation and maintaining a records as being a critical component of this process, but we want you to sign off when applying for these funds that you recognize that there may be monitoring associated with this for your facility.

So, Tamar, I’m going to get to your question I see you popping up there, but we’re going to we’re going to move forward as we get into expenses and I’ll cover that and expenses.

So again, this is just the attestation as part of the application. We do say and I recognize the stresses that providers are operating on. If you enter into this process, and for whatever reason, the decision needs to be made to close your facility permanently during the course of the stabilization grants, the ELRC will work with you to issue the final payments, say for example you get four months in and the ELRCS will work to issue a fifth month payment but not the six month payment so we just want people to understand that if they have to make those tough decisions, there is some adjustment to the grant amounts that will be awarded.

And then, again, we’re just asking you to attest that the information that you’re providing is accurate to the extent of the knowledge that you have. And then this is the place where you would give us your monthly operating expenses. You’re just going to enter the dollar figure for a month and again we want to stress that again, that it’s a month, how much you think those average monthly operating expenses are.

So let’s move on to the next part. So, before we get into thinking about the use of funding, Karen are you seeing anything that really has to do with that first application process? And when I talk about the application that was it. Like, like your, your switch we tried to make this so simplevthe critical piece that we need from you is the information that’s required reporting about the gender, race, ethnicity of the provider, the enrollment on the date that you apply your general review of the pre populated information and that you would contact anybody and the event that something was an error, and the monthly operating expenses that is about a simple of a process as we can make this

Trace we have a couple of questions from folks that operate underneath the umbrella of like a large social service organization and they’re wondering how they’re supposed to handle the race and ethnicity questions since it’s not an individual that owns the business.

So I think that you’re talking about who is your key leader, and is that the director. We don’t have a lot of specific guidance around that. So, we can translate operator into the person that’s responsible for that facility. So if you’re part of a nonprofits, and you designate that the person who is deemed the child care director under the regulatory process, then that’s the person that you can use if you feel like it’s important in your organization to denote your executive director, then you would put your executive directors information in there.

And there are folks asking about the idea of looking at estimating expenses on questions about is this current estimations of expenses or is this pre-COVID and typical estimations like, what kind of time frame, should they be looking at in terms of how to estimate that?

So, we, we have not given specific guidance around that, I would estimate expenses that reflect those added elements that you might need to put into place to mitigate COVID. So if you’ve increased costs for supplies materials resources, maybe you brought additional staff in you know factor those things into your operating costs. We don’t have a specific time frame to go to to say use this this portion of your year to generate the expenses. If you’re working with a business manager, you know, we’re nine months away from the time period when providers may have had their taxes done. It could be easy to go back and talk to your business manager about what were your accumulated expenses for the calendar year of 2020 and see if there’s any modification that needs to be done around COVID costs with that, that time period is flexible for you because your expenses might be depressed a little bit right now if your enrollments down. So, we would just want you to maintain how you arrived at your expenses for that particular segment of time that you use to calculate them.

So Trace and I’m going to apologize because my neighbors doing yard work so people might be hearing it. But there are folks asking for folks that have multiple sites do the expenses have to be specific to each location, or if they kind of put all their expenses together, you know, How do they handle that?

So, we will make sure that we address this in the FAQ, and we’ll need to be very intentional about adding some questions for multi site locations. The way the application is designed is its location specific. And so if you are a corporate structure in calculating the operating expenses if there are people in the corporate structure that directly support providers for a portion of their time, those expenses should be allocated across the applications.

I’ve got folks asking about how, if they have pre k counts or Infant Toddler Contracted slots. Do they need to, how does that factor into expenses or enrollment?

So your enrollment, is your child care enrollment so the portion of the day where children are receiving pre k counts. If they don’t, then, because we’re not talking about full time equivalents. We’re talking about an enrollment so a child is a child, whether they’re there, a third of the week a half of the week or the whole week.

I should clarify that the system will calculate enrollments up to your license capacity. So, if you actually physically have 150 children attending your center, but your license capacity is really only 125, the system will default to your license capacity. But on the flip side, if your license capacity is 125, but your part time equivalents, you’re not counting them as a full time equivalent you’re counting them as a single child. And so, I don’t know if I completely answered the question so would you repeat it.

It was asking about grant funding with pre k accounts.

Yeah, I got, I got so focused on answering the question about the full time equivalent. So if a pre k count slot does not pay for childcare. They’re not counted.

Okay, and the expenses that support the child care?

I’m sorry, the expenses that support pre k counts should not be included in this calculation, it should be your expenses for the activities associated with childcare expenses. So if two of your rooms are pre k counts rooms, you’re going to want to figure out how much that Pre K Counts grant supports those rooms and not count that in your calculation. That is an excellent question because we know that child care is one of the biggest providers of pre k counts and we’ll make sure we create some responses in the FAQs around that so whoever asked it Thank you.

So we have a number of questions about clarifying whether this is just the CCW children, private pay children, should all of those be counted?

In terms of this is children, this is enrolled children, this is not child care works driven so if you are a provider and we have a couple of you that don’t serve any child care works children, you are eligible and you’re counting your enrollments.

There are also some questions about if they anticipate their enrollments are going to be going up does it make sense to delay their application?

Yes. So that’s one of the reasons you may decide to delay your application.

And then, what is the likelihood that they waited too long the money would be gone?

So I have to say that this is based on the availability of funds, but when we conducted the calculations that we went through for this payment process we did it, assuming that every provider was going to apply for their full license capacity. We know that, first and foremost, people are still struggling to get to their full operational capacity, let alone their license capacity. So while I strongly doubt that we will exceed our funding threshold, if some wave of return to childcare happened and everybody is at full capacity, it is conceivable that money could run out, it’s doubtful but I have to say that it’s based on the availability of funds. I think if you are in any kind of forum with your peers and your communities, we’re hearing Karen and I are hearing along with the other team members at OCDEL that people are struggling with enrollment. And so, it’s doubtful that everybody is submitting for their license capacity.

There are a number of folks that are asking questions that because they have their license capacity but because they enroll school aged children, and they’re not full time that they actually their enrollments are going to exceed their license capacity, and how that impacts?

Remember I said the enrollment will default to your license capacity. If you exceed your license capacity. So if you are licensed for 125 children, and your license capacity or your, your school age kiddos bump that up to 200, you’re only going at your 125. So if your number exceeds if your enrollments exceed your license capacity, it will use the lesser of

Domebody’s asking about ERC children clarifying. Yes, it is your child care works in your private pay children that are counted in your, in your enrollments.

18:50:42 Correct.

Um, I think we might need to just say, I think you’ve answered like in general and they’re going to be some ones that you’re going to get to later on but again I want to reiterate that once you answer, enter a question into this it’s saved and so even if we don’t answer it verbally here, there will be, you know, you’ll get some kind of a written answer will use this to generate an FAQ something to that effect and folks will get answers to their questions.

Yeah, I think you’re good to go on to some of these are going to get later.

So, again, let’s start to think about how we’re using funds now So Jim if you advance the slide.

I haven’t done a very good job of keeping up with my personal notes here in front of me so just give me a second. So intent like I can see all of you out there.

So, in the attestation, here are buckets that are listed out. And as you’re thinking about how you may use funds, one of the critical pieces of ARPA, is that it authorized the use of these funds for expenses back to January of 2020. That was when the federal administration announced the public health emergency that was COVID 19. And so in Pennsylvania we didn’t really see the impact of that until March of 2020. And so many of our other stimulus payments were based on either march of 2020 or different time points related to when the funds were authorized. So we know that there are some of our larger childcare facilities that might have had expenses that were not covered by any of those past stimulus payments. So, one of the critical elements of this is if you have outstanding payments that you owe on or that perhaps you borrowed money for or you dipped into personal savings if you’re the owner that have not yet been reimbursed. If you provide the documentation of how you are using these funds to cover those expenses, you can go back to 2020 again as we talk about all of these categories.

Now you’re going to want to maintain a record in some fashion that when you may be selected for monitoring, or in the event that your own business manager is looking to make sure you’re complying with the requirements that you have evidence about how you’ve used these funds.

And so the first use allowable use of these funds is to state sustain your wages and benefits. And so again this is a big bucket of how you can use the stabilization funds. If you remember when we cover the attestation, we covered the piece that the feds indicated that by accepting these funds during the period of the grant you’re going to maintain your hours and your minimum rate that you were paying your staff.

But when you receive these funds, you may choose to do that and offer some of these other things. I have heard and Karen has heard and other team members have heard right now, around the need to have recruitment incentives to get staff to come to work so that falls in this bucket, you may decide that you want to temporarily increase wages or, or maybe permanently increase wages that this will allow you the leverage to do that.

One of the cautions that I committed to sharing with people as they’re thinking about this is any permanent reoccurring costs. We really want programs to think about how they’ll sustain that after these funds are over because we’re planning to pay them out over six months. So if you decide to increase your staff wages permanently how will that be maintained in the future?

So, temporary increases incentives, you may have new staff coming in, you might want to offer them evenings or weekends to get their training.

The Federal information memorandum suggests that if you are still working to support staff and becoming vaccinated, that you can use these funds to support a lot of rich personnel related costs.

So, this has got a lot of flexibility around it. This is one of the things why we wanted you to think about it now that if you have been one of those providers and we’ve been hearing that there have been providers offering incentive bonuses to start working in your facility. Now, this can cover those expenses that you’ve already utilized to get staff hired may support, helping staff get their clearances, you know clearances are not inexpensive if somebody hasn’t been working for a while. So there’s a lot of flexibility. If you choose to use these funds in this category.

So if you advance on the second category is these things that are related to the operation of your facility that are facility related. So, your rent your mortgage if you’re if you own the building your utilities, anything along these lines that you might need to have as a current cost, or if you needed to go back and cover costs that were not previously covered by the curse of funds or the cares Act funds, you can go back. If you had to take out again we talked before about a loan to cover anything related to your operations. You can repay the loan. Or if you had to borrow this from your own personal account, or you put it on your credit card. You can compensate yourself previously, or moving forward for the period of the funds in this facilities category.

So Jim if you move on.

We know unfortunately that we’re not out of COVID yet. And so this separate category of things that you as a provider may need to do to continue to keep your children and your staff safe around covert protective activities the personal protective equipment, extra cleaning, you know, perhaps you’re purchasing masks for everybody in your facility. The thermometers that we got for screening are burned out because you’re using them every day for multiple children. This category about things that you specifically need to keep you and your staff and your children safe are in this third bucket.

This can also include professional development around how you train new staff coming in, say you need to do that on an evening or weekend you can collect those costs and aggregate them all in this category.

So Jim if you advance on.

And then there’s the equipment and supplies.We recognize that there have been, you know, best practices  around say air quality and center spaces. Increased ventilation. These types of things that are used to continue to enhance the quality of your facility or that support your facility and making sure that developmental age appropriate practices are happening that you might not have been able to renew or restore or, you know, we recommended back at the beginning of COVID that you put a lot of soft materials away that weren’t easily sanitized. And you know what you didn’t have a lot of materials and supplies that you could put out. You can enhance your classroom materials with more appropriate easily sanitized things under this category.

So, this, this, again, is one of the options that you have for materials and supplies,equipment and supplies, including technology. And we know that there are some providers out there that have expressed challenges around technology in the past and connectivity and this in order to be able to able to take professional development remotely, or to access reporting and receive communication technology is included in this as well.

So you can advance on.

And then, the supportive goods and services and so this is also pretty flexible here so we talked about some of the examples around food materials. Equipment for diapering, all of those things that might be a good services somebody coming in like an external cleaning company. Maybe you’re having a trainer come in from outside and you have to pay them to come in, that would be a service. And so, things of that category would be lumped into goods and services.

And then Jim one more.

So, the system that we offer in support of early childhood mental health consultation. While we’ve expanded that slightly we know that it may not be meeting the needs of every provider. And so another allowable use of funds, is to support mental health for children and employees. And so whether you hire consultants, or perhaps you have developed a relationship with somebody that would come in and do staff professional development specifically around mental health. Or perhaps you want to buy into a system where your staff can call independently and and speak with somebody about some of the struggles that they’re having supporting mental health is also an allowable expense in this process.

And Jim if you advance one more.

So we wanted to just reiterate this and I saw this pop up before about what is a minor renovation versus a major renovation. A major renovation is basically construction. And so if you’re if you’re modifying a room to allow it to have more space that you are adding a sink those are minor projects, if you’re building a wing on to your building you cannot use your funds for big expenses like a building or adding a parking lots, or I lost my third thing. When we put the FAQ out we will use the federal language that finds a major renovation

Tracey a couple of people that have asked about things like a roof.

So a roof is a great question, and I’m going to say we’re going to have to wait. I’m going to see whether that falls into minor or major.

We have a few folks that have asked about air filtration systems

Air filtration systems is allowable that that was called out  in resources from the feds.

Someone is installing an antimicrobial floor.

So if you’ve got questions around installation of these larger products. I really want to go back and confirm because I do not want to miss inform you and give you wrong information. So if you put that into the q and a the types of things that you’re thinking about, we’re going to pull them from. We’ll put that out specifically as a response to your questions, if they are allowable uses. I think that’s a great thing to consider, but I don’t want to give you misinformation and tell you one way or another, and have contradictory information so I apologize that we don’t have that answer night, but we will definitely include it on the  FAQs.

Right. And it looks like a lots of books, they’re starting to put in those kinds of expenses so that’s great. We will keep track of those and get out a more thorough answer.

There are some questions around the staff and the section around professional development, and being able to use that to pay for staff hours to get a CDA, can they use it to actually pay for college credit, those kinds of things?

Professional Development was an allowable use of the funds. Now, what I would suggest, and again, I don’t have the ability to comment on this now is through the professional development organizations through TEACH, through Rising Stars Tuition Assistance. We do have some supports that are available, but if those are exhausted and you want to support your staff moving forward with a qualification. The only sensitivity that you have is how you’re paying for it within the course of the grant and the reporting period. So, the payments will be made over six months. This is not a one and done payment this will be Payments Issued over six months, and the reporting when we get to that piece will open up in the eight to nine month window recognizing that people might still be spending money in months seven months, eight. So, just in terms of thinking about how you might need the funds to pay for those supports, that’s something to consider but professional development is certainly one of the things that’s included especially when we recognize that you might be hiring a lot of new people in and want them to have specific qualifications to started.

So, there are some folks that are asking about how they received a previous PPP loan and how to those kinds of things impact their ability to apply for this?

So applying for this doesn’t have any impact on whether you’ve received other federal funds. So all of you I’m hoping took advantage of the three rounds of CARES Act funding that we distributed and the CRRSA funds that we distributed. Similarly, if you received a PPP loan. These funds cannot duplicate payment for an expense that’s already been paid by another federal loan or a grant. So, if you have to buy new PPE that was not covered by that previous application and funding, you’re able to purchase new materials that aren’t paid for by another funding source, and by funding source I mean CARES or CRRSA and the Act 24 payments that were issued. So, if they weren’t fully addressed or they weren’t addressed at all these funds can cover those costs.

And there’s a question about, if, if you don’t actually apply until November is it still a six month payment period or is it a shortened window?

No, the payments are available over six months, regardless of when you make applications.

There are some other questions about things like should your monthly amount include what you plan to do with any renovations and hazard pay, and anything else needed in your facility? So I think what they’re trying to get at is if I’m going to pay hazard pay do I add that on to my expense estimations or are these expense estimations based on before the grants?

So the way I consider it is expenses, you have recorded already. And so what are your operating expenses at the time that you made the application, not what you might do in a month or two. So, If you’re planning to issue hazard pay you haven’t yet and you were planning to use these grant funds to do it you can’t calculate that back into your expenses to calculate the grant. So we’re looking at what were your expenses leading up to your application. And to be able to document where you pulled those expenses from.

I just want to be clear it should not be anticipated expenses. It should be your current expenses. And if we come back around as we’re reviewing all of this if that changes, we would encourage anybody that participated this evening to come back around and just verify the information from the FAQs.

There’s a question about whether funds can be used to cover the loss of enrollments?

So, we’re going to talk about that related to Child Care Works. But this isn’t. This isn’t addressing the loss of enrollment. So, this supplements. The grant can supplement paying for things that enrollment revenue didn’t pay for. But when you talk about expenses related to the loss of enrollments. I’m not sure how this would be different than your ongoing reoccurring expenses. So, if you want to clarify that in the q and a we can come back around and look at it. But this isn’t saying, I lost 10 enrollments and so part of my expenses is the loss of revenue, it’s not calculating that as an expense. It’s populating what you paid staff, what you paid utilities mortgage rents, what you paid insurance publications, ongoing supplies that were delivered say food service or janitorial all of the staff that work in your facility.

Trace we talked about the idea that they have to apply for each site if they’ve got multiple sites, and they’re asking is for a multi site organization does the money need to be spent only at the site, it was awarded to?


There are a couple of folks that are just questioning why they have to put their race on the application?

The race is a dictate from the federal Administration for Children and Families Office of Child Care. It specifically says that in the guidance that was issued to states. We’re not making any disposition around it but that was a reporting requirement that we have to report back to the federal administration, including gender, and the ability of whether or not we can get a portion of this money out by December and we’re confident that you all are going to apply. And so that was another reporting requirement. So we’re going to put the IM in, when we do the FAQs we will point to the specific citation about the required elements that have been asked for by the federal administration.

There are a number of folks that are asking questions, I think the easiest way to talk about it is around the calculation logic. But that’s going to be made public at some point, correct? We’re not getting into calculation logic tonight? Most of these are still people putting in things around.

Yeah, I think we’re good to move on. Okay.

So Jim if you want to move beyond the big red now.

So we’ve talked a little bit about this but, again, I know that there are some people that might be representing multiple site, legal entities, the payments will be issued to the location that each location, and each payment will be issued and six monthly installments.

We’ve already worked with the ELRCs to get the projected initial months payments out already. So, we’re ready to move we’re not waiting to see who applied and calculate how much money the ELRC is need when applications are open and start coming in, ERLCs are authorized to begin reviewing and approving them and then putting them into their payment system, they’ll be issued one time, each month for six months.

If you want to advance them.

So we’ve talked a little bit about this through different parts of the presentation so far, so it’s important, because we want to be very transparent with folks that there is an obligation to keep records around this. And there’s a reporting and monitoring piece that goes along with the receipt of these funds. Similar to other grant programs that we authorize and operate.

And so providers will be randomly selected to conduct a monitoring visit with the ELRCs. And so they’re going to have an expectation that when they sit down or when they work through this monitoring process with you, you have the records that point to how you’ve reported or those initial attestations so I talked early on about keeping documentation about your enrollment at the time of the application.

We’re only going to ask you when you report to report in those categories of personnel facilities goods and services, equipment and materials, mental health, we’re only asking you for the big dollar figure we’re not asking you for all the detail, but if you happen to be selected from a monitoring, there should be sufficient detail that supports how you report it in the system. And so whether you do that electronically and you keep everything in a file on your computer, or if you’re if you are a paper person and you keep track of that. We want everybody to realize that in this process. This is important, and that it may be needed for monitoring later on. So figure out at the beginning, how you’re going to track the utilization of these funds and the key data that us we’re used to inform your receipt of the grant.

So Jim you can advance on.

So, Again, we talked about reporting because OCDEL is required to report to two different places. So at the very very beginning in the application process, if you have an idea of how you’re going to use the funds, it gives you those big buckets of funding, and if you choose personnel and that’s the only thing you chose you still have the ability to use the funds across the other categories, it was just sort of an estimation of where you thought the funds were going to go, but at the end, regardless of whether you chose a category at the beginning and the application process.

Eight months after the grant has been approved, you’ll get a reminder that it’s time to start thinking about reporting. And you’ll report in the same system that you made application and we tried to make it really easy. And so you would open up the reporting feature, and it would have those buckets, and you would take your records and you would insert the amount of funds that you spent in those categories, leading up to that time, we really do not want money back. I can’t stress that enough. So if you’re concerned when your grant’s approved, about how you’re utilizing some of these resources, we want the ELRCS to have conversations and technical assistance that we can provide you for appropriate uses of the funds.

And remember, one of the things said in the attestation, if you’ve exhausted all your purchases you’ve exhausted your staffs’ interest in professional development and incentives or stipends for them for working through COVID. If you still have unspent funds, you could eliminate payments for enrolled families for a period of time. So we really want to be supportive and thinking how to appropriately spend these funds. We do not want to see that you went on a trip to Cancun. But how we can support families or support your staff or you in utilizing these funds, and not returning them.

But we need to have you report, and unfortunately if we run into a circumstance where funding has to come back. It has to come back. But to the extent that we can support you in figuring out alternative ways to spend it we would like to do that.

This December we’re obligated to report to both the federal Office of Child Care and to the Pennsylvania appropriations committees, and they really want to know a status of how many providers have been approved for funding and  what level of funding. And if we’re starting to know the programs that said No thank you. So part of the system will generate those reports. We report again to the Pennsylvania legislature and April and I believe again in September. And so, the information is critical, not only for our own uses. But for the legislature and for the federal office as well.

And then we talked about those buckets, making sure that the funding that you’re using in those categories. All things that providers might spend this stabilization grant will fit in one of those categories and if you’re wondering which one it would be. We can certainly give you some more guidance about which category to report it in.

Jim if you want to move on.

So we’ve talked about this already, the ELRCs there 19 of them if you’re not familiar with the structure of our business partner statewide. We talked about the fact that we’re expecting them to do outreach to make sure we know that any provider who was interested and eligible to apply for funds, had the opportunity to do so. And then as the grants begin to close down, they will start to randomly select 15% of the providers within their service area to conduct monitoring on, and I’m sure that many of you have been selected for grant monitoring through a Keystone STARS initiative or maybe you are one of your PreK Counts. There is a structured process that our ops and monitoring team will give the ELRCs to come out and complete those monitoring and they’re really looking to affirm the information that you attested to, and then to look to make sure that you had documentation in some fashion, of how you spent these resources.

So Jim if you want to advance on.

So we’re winding down and we’re getting near the end of at least the formal presentation. So if you’re thinking that other than what the funding mechanism is if they’re outstanding questions. I have about four slides left to go.

So one of the things this money is only available to Pennsylvania for a limited amount of time. So when we talked earlier about the rolling application process, we’re accepting applications from the time that it opens in September until the end of January. So providers can apply anytime in that window. And so we talked before and I alluded to some of the reasons why you may not make application right away. And so they’re bulleted out here. We talked about the enrollment, that you may be anticipating a lot of children coming into the facility. You may be, you know, working to collect your accurate depiction of your expenses. You may not want to apply because you’re not really entirely sure how you’re going to use the funds when they come. Some of you that are part of larger organizations may have to have Board approval or some sort of other administrative review about what your strategy is throughout COVID providers continue to move up through Keystone stars and while we had a question earlier that asked whether you needed to have a STAR level. When we talk about how the calculation is operating. There is a factor that recognizes various STAR levels so you may be about to move up and STARS, and if that’s coming in the next couple weeks after the application opens, you may want to wait until you increased your STAR level.

And then we’ve talked before about the fact that we know that there are providers who are in the refuse to renew the revocation, or they may be under investigation that are going to be successful in their appeal, or when the investigation is completed. It’s going to find that there was nothing fraudulent occurring. And as soon as those providers have returned to either a provisional or full Certificate of compliance, they’re eligible to apply at that time as long as it’s done prior to January 31.

And then again we know that some of our providers, post September 30 may be impacted by COVID, and it’s really just one of those things that you’re working to juggle through, and that you may need to wait a couple days or weeks to apply because you’re dealing with COVID and impacts that coven may have on your center to restore your enrollment.

Again, these are all very individualized to you, your comfort level and sort of where you think you’re going to be in terms of your operations, but you do have a little bit of flexibility here.

So Jim if you want to advance one more slide.

And we’ve talked about this before, when we talk about a robust amount of funding this funding is offered at $655 million. And again, when we did all of our calculations and we will be releasing how we arrived at the calculations that we’re using for this process, we made some assumptions that providers might be applying at their full license capacity, which we do not anticipate but it is a possibility. So as always I am asked to say based on the availability of funds. And so, Karen if there are some outstanding questions that you think we can get to right now, that was the end of the PowerPoint presentation so for those of you that have online and there’s 611 of you out there. Thank you. If we can’t answer your question tonight we’re going to turn and pivot on the 312 questions that are in the q and a and lump them together and get you the answers that you’re hoping to ge. It will not be this week but we will be ready to move forward on answers I’m hoping by next Wednesday when we do our next get ready release.

So we do have folks asking since they’re going to be payments across six months, do you have to spend all the money that you’ve got in one month in that  month?

So, again, we recognize that, even within the six month timeframe, you may need some additional time to spend those funds. So we, right now I don’t know that we’ve completely committed to the outside date but we were talking about in a nine month window that you would have up to nine months. From the time your grant was approved to spend and report. But if if people are concerned that perhaps nine months isn’t a lot please throw that into the q and a, but we recognize that you might be spending at month seven or month eight, and so we want to recognize that that you might need a couple extra weeks or a month or so to spend the money and then report.

And then Trace if you can just confirm that when you apply for the money if your enrollment goes up after you make your application, there will not be any kind of an adjustment.

Correct. It is the date and again that’s what we said could be a consideration for waiting. If you anticipate your enrollment to go up. So when you apply you are making your application based on the information that you have at that date if you think it’s Wednesday the grants open I want to get it in right away but I think next week 20 kids are going to enroll, I’m already talking to those families, maybe you want to wait till next week. But again, it’s your local decision, and I can’t, I can’t even begin to fathom how some of you are sort of managing the work that you’re doing with everything that’s coming at you so do what’s best for you.

Someone was asking if you are selected for monitoring, will there be advanced notice that that’s happening?

Yes that’s usually a conversation between the ERC staff and the provider to set up that time and what the expectations are.

And there are folks that are wanting clarification that if they had expenses throughout the COVID crisis that they use their personal savings to cover that they’re allowed to pay themselves back.

They are allowed to pay themselves back, but those expenses should fall into a category. Did you have to dip into your savings to pay the rent, so that would go in the facilities cost. Did you take out a personal loan because you’re, you’re an owner operator and you needed to spread it out across a bunch of things. You just need to be able to define what those funds or you dipped into your savings what they were used for and how you would document what you did.

So there are a couple folks asking for more clarification around what’s considered enrolled, they serve infants and toddlers and they have infants that are confirmed to start say in November or December, can they count those children as enrolled?

We’re probably going to come back and debate that one and answer in the FAQ. So thank you for bringing it up. I mean that’s a great question.

There’s also a couple of folks that have asked that since the funds are taxed,are they allowed to estimate what the tax will be, and use the funds to pay the tax?

Whoa. So, again, we have to come back to that one. I think we’re going to have to come back to that one.

So, and I’m still getting lots of questions if you could just go through again Trace there’s questions about whether it’s going to be based on enrollment or licensed capacity, on current enrollment or previous enrollment. I’m feeling likejust one more statement about how that’s going to work.

So, the enrollment is determined. Let’s just say, I’m just going to be clear here. The application will be open in September. But let’s say you defer it and you apply it on October the fifth, and your number of children that attend your facility full time or part time is 150, you would put 150 into the system. The system is going to compare that to your licensed capacity, you don’t have to do that. You don’t have to make the decision. You just have to enter the number of children, full and part time, who are coming to your facility. If your license capacity is greater, the calculations that we’ve developed will go on the number that you reported and the process will continue. But if you report 150, and your license capacity is 125, the system is going to select 125 for the calculation. You don’t have to make any decision about that the system will do it.

So, if you put the number of children in that are enrolled and attending and I think that’s going to be where we get with the infants but we’re going to clarify that as what they actually are whether it’s part time or full time, it’s the number of individual children. You’re going to enter that in and the system will calculate it. That cleared it up for folks.

And then, with just a minute we have left, if you could talk a little bit about when they can expect the application to be open lots of folks are asking when it’s going to open up.

So I can’t give you that deadline yet we’re getting close like we are really getting close and I said mid September. So we’re targeting mid September I will tell you that it’s not going to be the middle of September, which would be September 15, but it’s going to be soon. Thank you so much for being patient you really have been patient. It’s coming. And then our ELRCs are primed and ready to move forward with starting to process.

So we are at 730, I realized that there are a lot of questions in the q and a that we have not answered. There’s a lot in there that we have answered, I just lost the ability to track those and move them to the answered column, so it’s not as bad as it looks. But I think we have some work to do in terms of grouping questions together and coming up with a really clear FAQ that we can put out to folks in the next you know week or so.

I think that’s great and I know that if we haven’t been able to answer your question that can be frustrating, but you raising the question tonight is going to help us get the answer prepared prior to the release of this. And we’ll get a response out there. So, again, I just, you know, Karen before we close the folks that have stayed on and committed thank you so much for attending this evening and hearing about this opportunity. We really want to try to do what we can to support you. and I just want to say thank you, across the Commonwealth for everything that you’re doing to support our children and families, your staff and yourself. So to the extent that we can get you this information to help you make these business decisions. We want to get that out quickly and I just appreciate everything that you’re doing so thank you so much.

Karen, any last words from you?

I echo everything that Tracey said thanks so much and feel free to reach out with any concerns or questions and you know again we’re going to do our best to get these answers to you as quickly as we can.


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