ITHACA, N.Y. –– The Child Development Council, with funds from the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act has extended their child-care scholarships to include all essential workers.

At the beginning of April the Child Development Council announced the first round of scholarships funded through more than $10,000 in grants awarded by the United Way of Tompkins County, enabled by donor contributions to their COVID-19 relief efforts through the agency’s TMS Flexible Fund, as well as grants awarded by the Community Foundation of Tompkins County, who gave $10,000 through its COVID-19 Fund and a donor-advised fund.

Through the CARES Act, New York State is distributing $163.6 million state-wide in emergency relief to the child care system.

A portion of this funding will go towards providing free child care for income eligible essential workers. Essential workers using a regulated child care provider will receive a scholarship for the cost of care as long as the funds to support it are available. All licensed and regulated providers who are caring for essential workers are able to participate in this new program.

County Administrator Jason Molino issued an executive order on March 17, directing all state-licensed daycare centers in Tompkins County close through at least April 13. Following the announcement, two licensed daycare centers were allowed to re-open, but only to serve the children of essential personnel.

“Access to affordable and safe child care is a barrier for working parents during the best of times, and even more so during a crisis. New York State’s plan will ensure that the workforce that is needed to protect and care for the public during this pandemic have the child care that allows them to continue to serve us all,” the Child Development Council said in a statement.

If you are a parent who meets the definition of an essential employee and have child care needs, you can register here.  You will be contacted by the Child Development Council within one business day. They will follow up on next steps to gather information about your household and help you identify a participating child care provider or work with your current registered or licensed child care provider.

If families do not need financial assistance, the Child Development Council can provide support by identifying child care placements that are currently open. Families interested in either of these opportunities can inquire by emailing

Questions? Email or call (607) 273-0259.

Anna Lamb is a reporter for the Ithaca Voice. Questions? Story tips? Contact her at