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Tuesday, October 3, 2023

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Data show home-ownership disparities in North Dakota; Trump reaped over $100 million through fraud, New York says as trial starts; Volunteer water monitors: citizen scientists.

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Donald Trump's civil trial in New York is underway, House Republicans are divided on whether to oust Kevin McCarthy as Speaker, and Latino voter groups are hoping to see mass turnout in the next election.

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A small fire department in rural Indiana is determined not to fail new moms and babies, the growing election denial movement has caused voting districts to change procedures and autumn promises spectacular scenery along America's rural byways.

AR Adds 260 Child Care Providers, But Funding Crisis Looms

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Friday, September 15, 2023   

Across the country and in Arkansas, some day care providers face the threat of closure when federal government aid initiated during the pandemic expires at the end of September.

More than 91,000 children are at risk of losing child care in Arkansas, according to the Century Foundation.

Olivia Gardner, education policy director with the group Arkansas Advocates for Children and Families, said when the pandemic was raging, Arkansas used substantial funds to shore up the child care sector, increasing the number of children it could serve, and ensuring the facilities stayed open for frontline workers.

"From March 2020 until March 2022, we only lost 48 providers in the state of Arkansas, but we also added 260 providers," Gardner reported. "Those stabilization funds, those pandemic relief dollars, really allowed us to be able to add those providers across the state."

In Arkansas, more than 2,500 child care programs received American Rescue Plan support, which affected more than 235,000 children. Gardner pointed out the funding also helped the early childhood educator workforce, by providing retention bonuses and essential worker vouchers.

Gardner explained because Arkansas has achieved enough stability for its child care industry, it may not see a wave of closures if the federal money runs out. But she added it is still important for the state's congressional delegation to address the "child care cliff" in debating the future of the stabilization funds.

"It's super important that lawmakers start to understand -- and I'm optimistic that they're starting to understand -- how important and crucial the child care workforce is, and how crucial to the economy child care is," Gardner asserted. "I hope that something is done at the federal level."

Gardner stressed child care has been a lifeline for working parents throughout the pandemic. She added American Rescue Plan Act funds enabled Arkansas to add almost 8,000 additional spaces, for infants to school-age kids, in licensed programs across the state.


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