HERMITAGE, Pa. (WKBN)  Pennsylvania state Representative Mark Longietti announced how some of the American Rescue Plan funds will be used. Earlier this week, Longietti said over $2 million will be going to child care providers in Mercer County.

“If we don’t have funding, we don’t stay open,” said Devon Berry with The Sycamore Learning Center.

Twenty-four child care centers in Mercer County are being given a piece of the $2.2 million from American Rescue Plan funds. Longietti said the money will help child care providers return to full capacity.

“Pandemic-related shutdowns and declining enrollments have had a devastating impact on child care providers in our community, and it’s an issue that is not only hurting these business owners and their families but also complicating plans for working parents trying to return to the workplace,” Longietti said in a press release issued on Monday.

The state Department of Human Services will administer it in six monthly installments, and the funds must be used within nine months after the applications were approved.

Providers can use the money for operating expenses, personnel and program costs, equipment and supplies and reimbursement for past COVID-19-related expenses.

Reports on how the money will be spent must be sent to the Department of Human Services before the deadline.

The funding through the American Rescue Plan Act will range from $5,000 to more than $290,000 for the approved providers. The act has provided $628.5 million in approved ARPA funding to the state of Pennsylvania.

Each day care we spoke with had many reasons as to why this ARP money is really essential for them. The biggest reason was funding for staff.

“We lost a lot of kids and can’t take some back because we don’t have enough staff,” Berry said.

The Child Aid Society has also seen a staffing shortage, but they have more kids than ever to care for.

“We have quite a few more kids in our care than we would normally have simply because there’s less facilities open out there,” said Dottie Quillen with the Child Aid Society.

The Child Aid Society has used its funds to pay staff but also to pay for food. Quillen says they have had to make many changes in order to afford to feed children. The facility is part of the Child and Adult Food Program based in Pittsburgh.

“They require certain elements in every meal and if we don’t have those elements then we have to go back in and change them and make a lot of adjustments,” Quillen said.

The Sycamore Learning Center used some of the ARP money to not only help themselves but to help the families they serve. They have been able to comp some of the day care fees for those who needed some help.

“They struggle and I see struggling and if I can help, then I’m going to help,” Berry said.

Both centers are hiring staff. You can apply online for the Child Aid Society. You can apply in person at 1780 Maple Dr., Hermitage, PA 16148 for The Sycamore Learning Center or email them at thesycamorecenter@gmail.com.