DCCA expands child care program client base

An informal survey conducted by the Department of Community and Cultural Affairs showed that the number of single parents who are either working or studying in college has increased-a factor that the agency used to expand the client base of one of its programs.

DCCA Secretary Melvin Faisao announced yesterday that more clients will be served under the department’s Child Care Program in fiscal year 2013, which starts on Oct. 1.

The CNMI Child Care program is a federally funded initiative that provides a yearly grant of $1.9 million. This federal fund, sourced from the U.S. Child Care Development Block Grant Program, is used by the Commonwealth in paying for services rendered by child care centers.

This fiscal year, the program serves about 433 children on Saipan, Tinian, and Rota.

Starting Oct. 1, the client base will expand to over 600 children because DCCA will open 100 new slots and an additional 80 slots specifically to cover the increasing number of single parents who are studying at the Northern Marianas College.

For fiscal year 2013, Faisao disclosed that 433 renewal applications were approved. The additional slots, he added, will be announced on July 24.

According to the official, the child care program covers 26 child care centers, 21 family day care centers, and a home care provider.

Early this year, participating child care centers complained of delays in the issuance of their subsidies, affecting their operation.

Faisao told Saipan Tribune yesterday that subsidy up to April has been released to the centers, while subsidy for May is now being processed. He revealed that total subsidies he signed for May is $55,000 for child care centers and $60,000 for other providers.

He admitted that there have been some delays in the release of some checks but denied that it has reached up to 45 or 60 days, as earlier claimed by the providers.

Faisao explained that pursuant to its policy, DCCA has 19 working days to complete the payment review from vendors. After that, it will be routed to the Department of Finance, Procurement and Supply, then down to the Treasury Division for final assessment and check issuance.

Saipan Tribune learned that for fiscal year 2012-2014, the CNMI child care program is allocated $1.9 million. Of the amount, 5 percent is allowed for administrative costs, 8 percent for quality initiative programs, 8 percent for quality expansion, 5 percent for infant and toddler, and 1 percent for school age. The bulk of the fund, 73 percent, is for the program’s certification.

Moneth G. Deposa | Reporter

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