Direct Cash for Friend Family, and Neighbor Caregivers
At the start of the coronavirus pandemic, Molly Yost, Senior Director of United for Families program at Mile High United Way in Denver, CO, was working with her board, staff, and partners to decide how to respond to the growing childcare crisis exacerbated by COVID-19. Formal efforts to stabilize the licensed childcare workforce and programs in Colorado were underway, but the majority of kids under the age of 6 were being cared for outside of a licensed childcare setting. Prior to the pandemic, an estimated 93,000 slot-gap between the number of children under 6 in Colorado with all available adults in the workforce and the number of licensed childcare slots. Family, friend, and neighbor (FFN) caregivers were often the saving grace for families, but there was no clear path for these license-exempt providers to get support.
Mile High United Way started a direct cash assistance program for Family, Friends, and Neighbor (FFN) child care providers experiencing financial loss due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Caregivers received one-time cash grants between $2000 - $2500. AidKit served as the implementation partner for the program, provided program design guidance, built and hosted the application, trained community partners to screen applications, and distributed payments.
“How do you actually get funds to oft-overlooked populations who may or may not have a bank account?”
“On its face, saying, ‘how do we get relief to license-exempt family, friends, and neighbors (FFN) providing nurturing and essential care for young children,’ seems simple, but when you peel back the mechanics of that, how do you actually get funds to oft-overlooked populations who may or may not have a bank account?” Molly and her team decided to address this gap in access to relief funds and turned to AidKit for support. She had heard about AidKit’s work as the tech force behind Colorado’s Left Behind Workers Fund and as part of Mile High United Way’s commitment to equitable solutions supporting those disproportionately impacted by the pandemic, wanted to be certain that caregivers, regardless of their immigration or banking status would have access to the new FFN Program. Key challenges included identifying qualified FFN providers to enroll in the program and figuring out how to issue payments to the banked and unbanked.
“What I appreciate about AidKit is that it’s not one-size-fits-all. It’s really customized to what we wanted to achieve and they designed the process to help us get there.”
AidKit worked closely with MHUW’s team to design an equitable application process that minimized the burden of proof for applicants while upholding the integrity of the program. A key feature was the use of outreach networks to build a pipeline of applicants for the program. It was important to build trust with license-exempt care providers and make sure their fears of providing personal information about their income and caregiving challenges would not prevent them from enrolling and benefiting from the program. AidKit trained 10 outreach organizations to spread the word and build a pipeline of applicants. AidKit also trained the outreach organizations on how to use our technology platform to refer eligible applicants in multiple languages.
AidKit’s tech team was able to help MHUW collect and interpret program data to gain deeper insights. For example, MHUW learned that the average FFN caregiver was spending $318 per month on cleaning supplies to keep the kids in their care safe. That data allowed MHUW to advocate on the providers’ behalf and leverage additional funding and provided valuable insight into their challenges. The data management features in AidKit also allowed MHUW to meet the strict federal reporting requirements. "It’s a hard line to balance, serving folks who’ve been forced in the shadows while also meeting the requirements of federal CARES act reporting.”
"At the end of the day we achieved our goal of providing relief with dignity."
What started as an urgent unmet need to support the informal care community in Colorado grew into something much larger. The FFN direct cash assistance program has now administered three rounds of funding and is gaining widespread recognition as a replicable model in other areas. The FFN program provided relief with dignity, delivering $900,000 in direct cash assistance to 389 childcare providers across 8 Colorado counties.