ELKHART — The ongoing government shutdown has operators of two non-profit daycare centers in Elkhart County worried about future funding from the feds.
For now, officials indicate that federal funds earmarked to help daycare centers cover food and tuition costs for children from low-income families aren’t in jeopardy. Still, if the shutdown, which went in effect on Oct. 1, lingers into November, Paula Mumaw, director of the Elkhart Child Development Center in Elkhart, has her doubts.
“What are we going to do if that’s not here?” Mumaw said, alluding to Child and Adult Care Food Program and Child Care Development Fund money the daycare center receives.
Carol McCrory, executive director of Goshen’s Walnut Hill Early Childhood Center, echoed that. “If the government stays closed, the money won’t continue,” she said.
Both daycare centers cater mainly to low-income families, and federal funding from the Child and Adult Care Food Program, or CACFP, and the Child Care Development Fund, or CCDF, help the facilities cover their costs. CACFP money helps with the cost of feeding eligible children while CCDF money helps cover the daycare fees of kids from low-income families.
“There are many parts involved, but (CCDF) is probably one of the bigger ones,” said Mumaw, referring to the Elkhart daycare center’s funding sources.
Other daycare centers may also get CACFP and CCDF funds, according to Mumaw. But the Elkhart Child Development Center and Walnut Hill Early Childhood Center are particularly reliant on the sources because client families, from the lower economic spectrum, typically pay on a sliding scale, based on ability. The Goshen operation currently cares for around 80 children and the Elkhart center cares for about 75.
‘NEED TO REASSESS’?
Marni Lemons, spokeswoman for the Indiana Family and Social Services Administration, said agency officials think CCDF funding, funneled from the feds through the agency, is OK for October. “If the federal government shutdown continues, however, we will need to reassess,” she wrote in an email.
Likewise, Indiana Department of Education spokesman Daniel Altman said state officials have received no indication that CACFP money, funneled from the feds through the department, is in jeopardy. McCrory said a consultant told her that CACFP payments for October will be made, but that it’s not clear what happens after that.
“Once November comes around, the state people can’t tell us because they don’t know either,” said McCrory.