The city’s new childcare assistance program may need another round of funding.
The program is designed to provide monthly payment vouchers for families who are having trouble paying for childcare. If approved, applicants will have their entire monthly childcare costs paid for over a 12-month period.
The City Council earlier this month approved a proposal to start the program using $500,000 of the $17.9 million in American Rescue Plan Act funds the city received.
Officials this week said judging by the amount of applications that have already been submitted, the council may need to appropriate more ARPA money to the program in the coming months.
“I will be honest with you, I think that particular program is going to need more funding,” Mayor Lioneld Jordan told council members at Tuesday’s City Council agenda-setting session. “We started with $500,000, but I think it will take more than that.”
Paul Becker, the city’s chief financial officer, said there have been about 150 requests for help since the program launched on Dec. 9.
Becker said city staff initially recommended $500,000 be allocated to the program, but that was just a guess.
“At that time, we didn’t know what to expect,” said Becker. “But apparently that program is going to be very popular and help solve a lot of issues for some of our citizens.”
Fayetteville’s ARPA funds are being divided into separate categories, with $6.9 million reserved for city projects. The remainder of the money is being spent on public programs and financial assistance for nonprofit organizations.
Becker said if all of the proposed ARPA-funded projects are approved, the city will likely have about $200,000 left over that could be allocated to new or existing programs that need additional funds.
About the childcare program
Anyone who lives, works or goes to school in Fayetteville is eligible to apply for the city’s childcare assistance program. An applicant’s child or children must be enrolled in a state-licensed childcare facility located in the Fayetteville city limits.
Once approved, the payments will be made directly to the childcare facility.
A page on the city’s website includes a chart with eligibility information depending on how many people live in a home. Households that earn up to 80% of the median family income in Fayetteville as defined by the US Department of Housing and Urban Development are eligible for vouchers.
For example, a household with three total people with an annual income less than $60,300 would qualify. A household of four would need to earn less than $66,950 to qualify.
For more information on how to apply, visit www.fayetteville-ar.gov/4248/Childcare-Assistance-Program or call 479-575-8260.