Fayetteville adds $1.5 million in relief money to childcare assistance program

(Adobe)

The City Council has agreed to triple the funding for Fayetteville’s childcare assistance program.

Councilmembers on Tuesday voted 8-0 to move an additional $1.5 million in American Rescue Plan Act money toward the program, which was first approved in December with a $500,000 allocation from the city’s $17.5 million in ARPA funds. The total amount approved for the program is now at $2 million.

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 program quickly proved popular and two weeks after its launch, city leaders told the council that more money would likely be needed to keep the vouchers coming.

Yolanda Fields, the city’s community resources director, said 70 applications are currently being approved at a cost of $840,000, and that another 17 are pending review with an estimated cost of $204,000. In total, the funds would cover a year’s worth of care for 110 children, Fields said.

Mayor Lioneld Jordan first suggested adding $1 million to the program, but during Tuesday’s council meeting, Councilmember Holly Hertzberg proposed increasing the addition to $1.5 million. Hertzberg’s motion was unanimously approved.

Councilmember Sarah Moore suggested staff should set a deadline for residents to apply for funds so people aren’t asking for help beyond the point at which the money has already been spent.

City staff said with the additional $1.5 million, the money will likely be gone in a couple of months, and agreed to soon set a deadline once a more specific estimation date becomes clear.

About the program

Anyone who lives, works or goes to school in Fayetteville is eligible to apply as long as their household earns no more than 80% of the median family income as defined by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

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.