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Howard County to use CARES Act funding to lower price of new child care program

After Howard County Executive Calvin Ball announced a program to assist with child care needs amid the coronavirus pandemic last week that could cost families hundreds a week, he said Wednesday that a portion of the county’s CARES Act funds would go toward lowering the cost of the program.

The RecZone program, which will be offered five days a week at public schools throughout the county, was initially priced at $259 to $325 per week depending on the schedules families chose.

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However, on Wednesday, Ball announced an allocation of CARES Act money to lower the cost of the program operated by the Department of Recreation and Parks. The funding will result in an approximately 30% reduction in cost for the program. The 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. program will be $185 a week and the 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. program will be $219 per week. Parents who have already registered will receive a credit to their rec and parks accounts for the difference.

“This global pandemic is testing all facets of our systems, and child care is no exception — without a reliable, safe place for parents and guardians to send children each day, it is going to be a serious emotional and physical toll on families,” Ball said in a county news release. “... We’re seeing a domino effect of challenges, and we’re working to provide support wherever possible.”

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The program, which is licensed through the Maryland State Department of Education’s Office of Child Care, will be open to students in kindergarten through fifth grade beginning Sept. 8, which is the first day of the 2020-21 academic year in Howard County.

RecZone will assist students with virtual learning assignments and work sessions, as well as provide physical activities, games and other activities. Each location will have no more than two 15-person groups, with each group limited to two staff members and 13 children.

The federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act funding that supports health-related costs is set to assist with salaries for emergency management and services dedicated to mitigating and responding to the pandemic; acquisition and distribution of supplies; expenses for public safety measures; communications and enforcement; and disinfection of public areas. In June, Howard County received nearly $57 million in CARES Act funding from the state of Maryland.

“We are grateful to receive funding from the CARES Act. This reduces child care costs for families as they return to the workplace,” Department of Recreation and Parks Director Raul Delerme said in the release. “Our department’s goal is to provide safe, beneficial and accessible programs in schools and are happy to do so during this unprecedented time.”

The county also announced 16 possible locations for the RecZone program in Howard County. The Department of Recreation and Parks and the Howard County Public School System, according to the release, are still working to finalize the sites. The possible locations are:

  • Bellows Spring Elementary School, 8125 Old Stockbridge Road, Ellicott City
  • Bollman Bridge Elementary School, 8200 Savage-Guilford Road, Savage
  • Bushy Park Elementary School, 14601 Carrs Mill Road, Glenwood
  • Clarksville Middle School, 6535 South Trotter Road, Clarksville
  • Dayton Oaks Elementary School, 4691 Ten Oaks Road, Dayton
  • Deep Run Elementary School, 6925 Old Waterloo Road, Elkridge
  • Elkridge Elementary School, 7075 Montgomery Road, Elkridge
  • Forest Ridge Elementary School, 9550 Gorman Road, Laurel
  • Fulton Elementary School, 11600 Scaggsville Road, Fulton
  • Hanover Hills Elementary School, 7030 Banbury Drive, Hanover
  • Hollifield Station Elementary School, 8701 Stonehouse Drive, Ellicott City
  • Ilchester Elementary School, 4981 Ilchester Road, Ellicott City
  • Laurel Woods Elementary School, 9250 North Laurel Road, Laurel
  • Manor Woods Elementary School, 11575 Frederick Road, Ellicott City
  • Veterans Elementary School, 4355 Montgomery Road, Ellicott City
  • Waverly Elementary School, 10220 Wetherburn Road, Ellicott City

Registration is open for the program for both Howard County and out-of-county families. The program is set to run through January, as the Howard County school system has announced it will be virtual through at least Jan. 28.

For more information or to register, go to howardcountymd.gov/rap.

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