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A subsidy covering 3 months of child care is now available to all Oklahoma parents looking for work

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The Oklahoma Department of Human Services has expanded a free child care benefit for Oklahomans who have lost their jobs.

Three months of fully subsidized child care are now available to parents while they look for work. While the CARES Act–funded program has been around since May 2020, it was previously limited to people who lost their jobs due to COVID, and it covered only 60 days.

OKDHS Adult and Family Services Director Deb Smith said access to child care is an economic issue.

"It sure is a challenge to go out there and search for your next ... career move without the support of knowing that your child is safe and they are being taken care of by a quality childcare provider," Smith said.

The child care benefit will be available until a $50 million grant for it runs out.

"We would love to see this as a permanent policy change, should the funds become available at some point, but at this time, it will be limited to ... that pot of money that we have available to us right now," Smith said.

Since May 1, 2020, more than 440 Oklahomans received the subsidy under its prior eligibility requirements. 

Job seekers do not need to meet income eligibility requirements for the subsidy as it's being offered now. They can apply online at okdhslive.org or by calling 405-522-5050.

OKDHS also has the Oklahoma Child Care Locator, an online tool to search for participating child care providers.

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