The D.C. region will receive more than $73 million in federal stimulus money to help low-income families with child care vouchers and other services as they struggle to cope with rising costs, the Obama administration announced.
The funds are part of a two-year, $2 billion initiative passed by Congress over the winter that gives states more money to pay agencies more for services or help states provide services such as immunization programs, officials said Thursday.
Experts said states likely will use the money conservatively, as the funding is supposed to last only two years. Many states don't want to be burdened with programs they can no longer afford.
Virginia will get about $43 million; Maryland, nearly $28 million; and the District, about $2.9 million.
Marianne McGhee, a spokeswoman for the Virginia Department of Social Services, said the department has more than 8,100 children on its waiting list for child care vouchers.
McGhee said Virginia has not decided how to spend the money. But officials won't make any changes that couldn't continue once the stimulus money runs out.
"Ultimately, our focus remains on increasing the capacity of the child care program, support to families hard-hit by the economic downturn, and quality of care provided," she said.
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Kristin Yochum, deputy chief of staff for the District's Office of the State Superintendent of Education, said the city plans to use the money to improve its child care tracking system. Officials may also increase reimbursement to child care providers.
And officials caution that the money is mainly to intended to help struggling families weather the recession.
"It's important that people realize that this stimulus money is temporary," said Michael Thompson, president of the Thomas Jefferson Institute for Public Policy.