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An estimated 34,000 early child care workers in Connecticut will receive $70 million over the next few months from the state for working through the pandemic.

Gov. Ned Lamont Lamont announced the funding Thursday. It was approved as part of the 2023 budget. The individual bonuses for full-time workers will amount to $1,000 and $400 for part-time workers.

The governor explained that this initiative, known as Wage Supports for Early Childhood Educators, was created to show gratitude for the service of child care workers, particularly during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. It was included as part of the state budget bill that he signed into law earlier this year.

“Child care staff work consistently to provide critically needed care to ensure that children are safe and their parents and guardians have the support necessary to go to work,” Lamont said. “They are an essential part of our economy and help make Connecticut the most family-friendly state in the country. We need to support this important industry that is vital to families, the workplace, and society.”

The initiative is being administered by the Connecticut Office of Early Childhood with technical support from the United Way of Connecticut. Child care program operators will be required to apply for the funds and then disburse the payments to their child care staff. After they apply, the payment should arrive within 45 days.

The child care operators will also receive funding of 10% on top of their staff payments to support supplemental staff benefits and administrative processing costs. Eligible child care staff include those who work in licensed centers, group child care homes, and family child care homes, as well as license-exempt programs that receive school readiness or child day care contract funds.

“We understand and appreciate how hard early childhood educators are working for our children and deserve to be applauded and rewarded for their dedication,” Connecticut Office of Early Childhood Commissioner Beth Bye said. “Their work is both critical in nature and highly valued by families in Connecticut, and these wage supports will help child care program directors recruit and retain staff.”

This program doesn’t preclude the workers from applying for help from other programs like the pandemic pay program run by the state comptroller’s office. The program for private sector workers who risked their lives to go to work during the pandemic had until the end of September to apply for that program. Since more workers than expected applied, the amount of money each worker receives will be less than the $1,000 initially anticipated. 

As of last week, more than 190,000 had filed applications for that program and more than 169,000 had started the process, but never completed the form.