Stabilization Nation: What if You Knew What You Were Up Against in Life?
In life, don’t you wish there were a control group for your decisions? What if each time you made a human error, agreed to undertake a new project, or passed up an opportunity, wouldn’t you have loved to have seen how the alternate scenario played out?
Now, you can, if only just this once. Becky Lieswald, a licensed childcare provider, applied for a Stabilization Grant. She has one small regret in her application process, and she’s kind enough to tell you all about it. But first, a bit about the Stabilization Grant.
If you’re a childcare provider, you already may have experienced the pandemic’s financial impact. You’ve probably endured families pull out from your care, fluctuating attendance numbers, loss of income, and of the hunt for cleaning products. Meanwhile, you may have struggled to remain afloat. As an organization that believes every child should thrive, along with their providers, we’re here to help.
As part of CARES Act Funding, there were two stabilization grants. One of them we oversee here at Nebraska Children and Families Foundation.
The application for funds will be open until September 30, 2020, and are available to in-home providers, private preschools ($3,500), and childcare centers ($5,500). These funds are intended to defray some of the costs you may have incurred during the pandemic.
The funding is available to cover anything from staff salaries, utilities, rent, mortgage, or essential cleaning supplies that you needed to purchase during the pandemic. These funds are open to licensed childcare providers in the Nebraska area who are currently open and providing care. Feel free to review the eligibility requirements here.
Here’s the Good News: For Once, You DO Know What to Expect
Becky Lieswald, an Atkinson, Nebraska licensed childcare provider, and Communities for Kids lead will reveal the one thing she wishes she had known before applying for the grant. Are you ready?
With her application sent in, Becky still has one small regret. That said, the regret is very small…
We’re glad to tell you that there are still funds available for our Stabilization Fund and that the process is incredibly short and simple.
Here goes. Becky wishes she would have known how brief and simple the application process is. Had she known, she would have applied sooner.
When asked what else she wished she knew before applying for the grant, Becky gave a reassuring answer.
Becky said that she’s glad that Marti Beard, the Assistant Vice President of Communities for Kids, a Nebraska Children initiative that supports quality care, programs, and providers, gently reminded her about the application.
Although procrastination is normal, Becky encouraged her fellow childcare providers to take the plunge.
PS: Becky’s Final Word of Advice and Another Small Regret
Ten minutes. That’s all it takes to apply for a Stabilization Grant. According to Becky, the ten minutes are worth it. Procrastination is not.
“It’s only ten minutes,” said Becky. “If I’d have known that, I would’ve done it right away.” Becky’s only regret about her Stabilization Grant application is 1) She wishes someone had told her the process was easy, and 2) She wishes more childcare providers knew the process was easy.
Becky said had she known of the user-friendly and short application time, she would have applied earlier.
“When people think ‘grants,’ they think of having to write different, long essays. THIS IS NOT THAT. [Nebraska Children] catered it toward childcare providers because we have things to do.”
Becky explained what you also know too well: the life of a childcare provider is busy. A simple, short task, she said, such as writing an email, can suddenly take an hour.
“That is because I’m switching back and forth, doing so many different things,” said Becky.
The other part of the application is straightforward: you need to concisely explain how the pandemic affected your program, list your priorities, and then you’re done.
“The most difficult part of the grant was explaining how COVID affected me,” said Becky. She said, however, that overall, the process was still simple.
“I explained how one family [I serve] left for two or three months and that took a chunk of income,” said Becky. “I was also spending extra time and money to do extra cleaning,” she said.
Finally, there’s the third step where you compile and submit your receipts. Becky expressed relief for the no-fuss process and the possibility that when awarded the grant, she will be able to cover some of her losses.
In addition to feeling gratitude for this present form of support, Becky has some future visions, too.
“I’d like to continue things like this [grant] that do support us and know that we’re essential – we get put on the backburner, yet we’re taking care of essential workers’ kids. I had school kids, too!” Said Becky concerning how the number of children in her care fluctuated in the wake of the pandemic.
“I’d say before the pandemic, I had a full house, but the kids were rotating out to attend preschool or full-time school. Then, when the schools closed down, I had 10 kids all day, every day!” Said Becky.
Becky said she’d also love to see online curriculums and programs that can help support childcare providers, in both a professional and financial sense. In other words, Becky said it best, “We appreciate being appreciated,” she said.
For Becky, support for her fellow providers can and should be expressed beyond just financial backing.
“It comes back to that we’re often considered babysitters, especially in a rural community. In Communities for Kids, we’re striving to let people know we’re educators, we’re creating the future generations. We’re with [the children] 50 hours per week, creating social-emotional growth. So much brain development happens from 0-5, and we’re creating that!”
But for Becky, appreciation is a two-way street. She said that a great way for our valuable early care professionals to ensure they remain a priority is to put themselves out there and apply for grants such as the Stabilization one.
“Please, use the program because if we’re not, then people will think we’re not here, and we don’t want [the support] – let everyone know that we appreciate it!” said Becky.