Early Learning Coalition Provides Financial Assistance for Outside School Care to Families in Need

School is back in session, which means many parents who are busy with work or even school themselves might need to find someone to watch their kids while they’re busy.

Through the Early Learning Center’s School Readiness Program, parents could maybe be eligible for high-quality childcare and early learning support. This is also the first time in 20 years that ELC does not have a waitlist. 

Local leaders like Jacqueline Guzmán, the Deputy Mayor for the city of Sunrise, greatly benefited from this program 10 years ago when she was still a single mom to her three kids. 

“All three of my children were able to get services provided through ELC,” Guzman said. “We still have a connection with their childcare provider to this day because they played a big part of our lives.”

Guzman says her children transitioned from school to after-school care with high-quality educational development. 

“It was a relief because I could go to work and know my kids were in good hands, and It was affordable,” Guzman said. “And ELC is so easy to work with, they make the process smooth and will find any way to help you.” 

Now, Guzman works for a city home to 185 of the 750 childcare providers ELC partners with Broward County. ELC School Readiness Program provides a sliding scale for low-income families, who usually end up paying a much smaller fee for childcare and early learning centers in Broward County. 

“We’ve had many families tell us they can pay anywhere from $200-250 per week for their child,” said Ancel Pratt, Senior Director of Communications and Outreach for ELC. 

For parents who work or go to school and meet income requirements, they too can get Broward County services like all-day care for kids 0-5 and after-school care for all elementary kids.

“The misperception we’re trying to dispel is that this is daycare, and it’s not,” Pratt said. “We’re setting you up where you can have your child in an early learning childcare facility.”

Pratt went on to say that the early learning facilities provide care equipped with professionals who are knowledgeable of age benchmarks and can even point out to families if there seems to be a developmental delay for their student. 

Additionally, CEO Renee Jaffee says these programs don’t just help you and your kids but also help small businesses.

“So many of our programs are led by minority women who can use these dollars to invest in their childcare programs,” Jaffe said. 

Last year, $130 million went to childcare small businesses and enrolled more than 17,000 students. 

Anyone can access the School Readiness Program even if they do not live in Broward County. To apply for financial assistance and see the eligibility requirements, go to elcbroward.org/childcare.