HARLINGEN — The Texas Workforce Commission has OK’d an additional $81.5 million from the federal CARES Act to extend an enhanced reimbursement rate for child-care providers hit hard by COVID-19.

The funding will extend a 25-percent enhanced reimbursement rate for child-care providers in Texas through July 2021.

The enhanced reimbursement rate is a temporary measure to help child-care providers address higher operating costs associated with the COVID-19 pandemic.

“High quality child care plays an essential role in maintaining a strong Texas workforce,” said TWC Chairman Bryan Daniel. “These enhanced reimbursement rates help us ensure child care providers will be able continue to provide essential services for the children of working families.”

The commission previously approved $154 million to support the enhanced reimbursement rate beginning in April and ending in December. It is now scheduled to continue through the end of the year.

“So many times, child care is the difference between a parent working or leaving the workforce,” said Commissioner Representing Labor Julian Alvarez. “As jobs and opportunity open up, we want to help Texans take advantage of those opportunities by eliminating roadblocks to returning to the workforce.”

The commission approved a continuation of the funding, but with a stair-stepped phase out.

The full 25 percent reimbursement will be provided for the months of January, February and March, then the percentage will decrease by 5 percent each month from April through the end of July.

The total cost for the program is estimated at $81 million. The funds arrived via a $371 million federal Child Care Development Block Grant to help Texas respond to COVID-19 impacts on child care.

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