LA CROSSE, Wis. (WLAX/WEUX) – Applications opened up Monday for the new $500,000 childcare grant program in La Crosse County. This program is expected to help childcare providers increase capacity and improve their business model.

La Crosse County Community Development Specialist, Sam Bachmeier, explains how the county will try to make things easier for childcare providers, “This has been a couple of years in the making program. We’ve listened to childcare providers here in the community and have tried to understand some of the challenges that they’re facing. You know, many of the challenges stem from just it’s a hard business model to run, you know, with limited funds available to childcare providers. So, we have come up with a program that will provide grants up to $25,000 for childcare providers in La Crosse County to essentially make capital improvements to their facilities.”

Bachmeier also says that multiple kinds of childcare providers can apply and how the grant can help families as well, “Any childcare provider in the county, whether they’re in a, you know, a physical business location or they’re at home, childcare providers can apply for and can receive these funds. The direct impact will go to the childcare providers themselves, but indirectly, you know, all families with children that have children in childcare will be impacted by these grants.”

And since applications to the grants just opened this week, there is still plenty of time to sign up. Bachmeier says, “The grant opened on August 28th. Applications can be received by us through September 29th, they will be brought to a review committee on October 5th and they’ll make the final decisions on who is getting the grants. And then childcare providers should be notified somewhere around October 9th, 10th whether they were successful in getting the grants.”

The $500,000 in ARPA funding for the program was approved by the La Crosse County Board on August 17th. To date, the county has awarded about $12.5 million in ARPA funding out of its $ 22.9 million allocation.