Scranton allocates $1.5 million in American Rescue Act Plan funding to grants for child care, educational programs

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Jan. 24—SCRANTON — The city will allocate $1.5 million in federal American Rescue Plan Act funding toward grants for child care and educational and literacy programs, Mayor Paige Gebhardt Cognetti announced Tuesday.

The goal is to promote affordable child care, literacy and financial literacy and address learning losses experienced because of the COVID-19 pandemic, she said during the announcement held at the Lackawanna County Children's Library.

"We thought that this would be a great place to announce this as our kids are an asset here in Scranton," Cognetti said. "This $1.5 million is to help them grow and help them catch up from what has been a really tough, tough few years for kids in school and also in the child care space."

The grants, which will come from the city's $68.7 million in ARPA funding, will enhance what school districts and other educational entities do, the mayor said.

"COVID-19 set our kids back and we have to be more deliberate about how we help them make up lost ground. It's incredibly important that we use this once-in-a-lifetime funding for the betterment of our city's educational and child care programs," Cognetti said.

A spending plan approved by the city in May called for the following grant allocations:

$750,000 to develop K-12 educational catchup and assistance programs, including high-quality tutoring, differentiated instruction, new activities to meet students' comprehensive needs, improved language access for parents and families, improving student engagement in distance education and administering high-quality assessments to monitor academic progress.

$500,000 for affordable child care programs to support new or expanded child care services, increased access to child care services, efforts to preserve existing child care services and the improvement or new construction of child care and day care facilities, all for the benefit of working families. "We're trying to help families meet the gap between being able to find child care and afford that child care," Cognetti said. "Child care is a huge piece of the puzzle piece of being able to work and earn a living wage."

$250,000 for the development of educational programs focused on literacy and financial literacy. Laureen O'Handley, the library's head of children's services, said some children lost socialization, behavioral or reading skills because of the pandemic shutdown. "So many of the children who were, say, in first grade learning how to read, lost a major component there," O'Handley said.

A webinar detailing the grant opportunities is Friday at 10 a.m. Interested parties can register at bit.ly/arpaeducation.

The deadline to apply for these grants is March 7, with applications accepted online through the city's Neighborly page at bit.ly/nblyscranton.

Contact the writer:

jlockwood@timesshamrock.com; 570-348-9100 x5185; @jlockwoodTT on Twitter.