Governor Dan McKee
Governor Dan McKee. Photo courtesy of Governor Dan McKee Facebook Page

PROVIDENCE, RI – Governor Dan McKee today was joined by Rhode Island’s Congressional delegation, Lt. Governor Sabina Matos, the Executive Office of Health and Human Services (EOHHS), the Department of Human Services (DHS), and the Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC) to announce $8.5 million in first-round funding from the Early Childhood Care and Educational Capital (ECCE) Fund. The fund, approved by voters during the March 2021 special election, allocates $15 million to support childcare facilities in Rhode Island.

This first round of awards will support 15 projects, and result in the improvement or creation of more than 1,200 childcare spots in the state. Additional awards will be made until the fund is totally allocated.

Public support for spending to create and improve childcare facilities was strong, with nearly 67 percent voting to affirm. After a rigorous review process, the first round of awardees has been selected. Childcare is critical to the economic health of families and the state. This funding will be used to improve health and safety outcomes and address physical space barriers to quality improvement; and provide for the expansion of quality programming throughout the state. Decades of research show that high-quality early care and education programs can improve children’s cognitive and social-emotional development, enabling children to perform better in school.

“My administration has prioritized ensuring that every Rhode Islander, regardless of where they’re from or where they’re raised, has a strong, solid start in life,” said Governor Dan McKee. “That’s why this $8.5 million in funding is so crucial. We’re making investments to expand and improve the child care infrastructure of our state, which is critical to our state’s economic health and to a family’s overall well-being.”

“High-quality child care is critical to child development and it’s essential for economic security for working families and employers alike,” said U.S. Senator Jack Reed. “These resources build on the $130 million federal investment we’ve made in Rhode Island’s child care and Head Start sector over the last two years. We must also ensure that child care workers get paid fairly and that their paychecks reflect the essential, critical work they do.”

“The strength of Rhode Island’s economy and workforce is built on the foundation of high-quality, affordable child care and early education. Improving child care facilities will set kids up for success while providing much-needed support for working parents,” said U.S. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse.

“Ensuring that every Rhode Island family has access to high-quality, affordable, and reliable childcare is one of the most effective ways we can address the gender pay and wealth gaps. Throughout the pandemic, women left the workforce in droves because they did not have access to consistent childcare,” said U.S. Congressman James Langevin. “This critical investment allows children to thrive in safe, stimulating environments and parents to return to work knowing that their children are being well cared for.”

“In March 2021, Rhode Islanders made clear that our state not only values childcare and early learning, but that we know how important it is to make investments in these essential services and the providers who work with our children every day,” said U.S. Congressman David Cicilline. “The COVID-19 pandemic, and the shifts it required us to make in how and where we work, laid bare just how critical childcare and childcare professionals are to parents, children, and the economy. Today, with the announcement of $8.5 million in initial awards through the Early Childhood Care and Education Capital Fund, we deliver some of the support childcare and education providers need to best care for Rhode Island’s children.”

“The Early Childhood Care and Education Capital Fund ensures that children, educators, and child care professionals alike will be able to attend facilities that reflect that Rhode Island’s national leadership in early education,” said Lt. Governor Sabina Matos. “Between the continuing distribution of ECCE funds and this year’s passage of a path to universal Pre-K, RI has more opportunities than ever for children to get a strong head start in their education.”

Said DHS Acting Director Kimberly Merolla-Brito: “Today’s announcements represent a tremendous investment in our early learning and childcare community. The response to this process and now the growth and opportunity that will come from these dollars is exciting and shows great promise for childcare in general, and for our awardees.”

“As the Chair of the Children’s Cabinet, I am pleased to see so much support for child care facilities in Rhode Island,” said Ana Novais, Acting Secretary, Executive Office of Health and Human Resources. “I am grateful to our Congressional Delegation, our state partners and of course, the Rhode Island voters who prioritized these investments for our youngest learners. These funds will make a difference as we improve and expand child care access.”

“The grant process opened in early July, and we quickly received applications for nearly twice the available funds,” said Erin Cox, AIA, Senior Program Officer at LISC Rhode Island. “Which speaks to the critical need in the community. We conducted a thorough review of the proposals and the facilities and made recommendations for final approval with a broader selection committee. We’re excited to announce these awards with the Governor today.”

The Request for Proposal received 95 letters of intent totaling more than $30 million in grant requests. Awardees from the first round of applications are divided into three categories including large scale construction and renovation projects to create new early learning slots, smaller scale renovations and reconfigurations that will increase the capacity of an existing facility and capital projects to improve existing facilities. Each awardee submitted a robust proposal with architectural schematics and received site visits for evaluation and technical assistance.

The results include five expansion projects totaling more than $7.8 million and creating nearly 500 new slots, and 10 capital improvement projects totaling $700,000 and improving more than 700 childcare spots. Additional grantees will be awarded in the coming months.

LISC has developed a robust childcare facilities practice area over the past 20 years that works with providers to develop safe, high-quality learning environments. LISC worked with DHS to release the Letter of Intent and application process, while also providing informational sessions and weekly office hours to help program providers prepare requests. After reviewing the applications, recommendations were made to a broader committee for determination of recipients.

Additional applications for funding will be accepted on a rolling basis with Letters of Intent being submitted to riecce-capitalfund@lisc.org by Friday, March 24, 2023. As Letters of Intent are advanced for proposal, these completed application documents must be submitted by the end of day on Friday, April 21, 2023, for consideration.

About the Local Initiatives Support Corporation: LISC is a national nonprofit that equips communities with the capital, program strategy and know-how to become places where people can thrive. Since 1991, LISC Rhode Island has invested more than $460 million in Rhode Island and attracted an additional $1.5 billion from public and private sources resulting in more than 9,106 affordable homes and apartments and more than 2.5 million square feet of retail and community space.

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