After months of deliberation and delay, the Board passed a new child care policy by which to allocate donations for private and center-based child care providers. The new policy establishes a childcare fund available to county residents. The proposal allots up to $25,000 for centers and $1,500 to childcare providers.

Funds are distributed as deferred 5-year loans. For every year that a recipient stayed in business, 20% would be deducted from the total owed. Participants who quit before the 5-year period expires would be expected to repay the remaining amount of the loan.

Commissioners previously expressed their concern that the proposal didn’t guarantee additional community financial support for applicants. The new version of the policy requires matching funds and/or in-kind contributions from outsider entities within the last 12 months.

Commissioner Gary Johnson told fellow commissioners that he had problems giving money to private businesses, however, other commissioners and county officials were quick to point out that the county regularly gave money to private entities. County Attorney Keith Helgeson agreed, adding that such financial contributions generally fell under the umbrella of “economic development.”

Commissioner Johnson also disagreed with allowing in-kind contributions to count towards the financial matching required under the new policy. Board Chair Ron Antony disagreed with Johnson, pointing out that in-kind donations were a common feature of grant applications. Family Services Director Rae Ann Keeler-Aus agreed, adding that “it would be unfair not to include in-kind [donations].”

Commissioner John Berends said that in addition to the economic development that investment in child care would bring, he said that greater access to child care also helped to ease the burden placed on other county services such as out-of-home placement for children.

Ultimately, the Board voted to approve the new policy. Commissioner Johnson was the sole ‘no’ vote.