(WJET/WFXP/YourErie.com) — Nearly 100 Erie childcare centers are set to benefit from the American Rescue Plan Act.

In total, some $8.3 million will go to Erie’s childcare industry, said a joint news release from the offices of state Reps. Bob Merski and Pat Harkins.

Each childcare center will receive grants ranging from $4,200 to $571,000, the news release said.

“Reliable, affordable childcare is essential for working families,” Merski said. “Without it, parents are tied to the home and drastically limited in their job options. Unfortunately, lengthy shutdowns, declining enrollments and other pandemic-related problems dealt a huge blow to most childcare providers, leaving many struggling just to keep their doors open. This funding will help with critical expenses to get these businesses – so vital to working families – back on their feet.”

Harkins noted how the funding could be used by the centers.

“Centers can use the dollars for a wide range of resources, including recruiting and retention programs; operational costs like rent, utilities, maintenance and insurance; equipment and supplies; mental health services for children and staff; and reimbursement for past COVID-19-related expenses, among other costs,” Harkins said. “Stabilizing the industry is critical for families trying to get back to work.”

The news release noted that the centers should receive the funding from the Department of Human Services (DHS) in six monthly installments. The funding must be used within 9 months after their applications were approved. The centers also must report back to the DHS how the funding was spent.

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The Erie grants are part of a package of $628.5 million in approved ARP funding to childcare providers throughout the commonwealth, the news release said.