WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – COVID-related federal funding for childcare runs out on Sept. 30. Providers will no longer receive sustainability grants and other monthly payments that helped keep their facilities running.

Many say the funds helped with necessary materials like paper, pencils, books, and wipes.

“There were a lot of things that I couldn’t afford to get on my own, and with that, it helped supply it,” said Bizzy Beez DayKare CEO Mary James.

“The sustainability grant allowed us to take down the wall between the kitchen and the dining room. We were able to install an island which helped us improve our education by allowing us to do more science together and cooking together,” explained Inspired Roots Childcare owner Mandy Jahnke.

The lack of money is causing concern many daycare services could stop.

“A lot of the programs use the funding to pay some of their bills to make sure they stay open and running,” said Child Start executive director Tanya Bulluck.

Paying employees could also become an issue. Many worry the situation could worsen the current shortage of providers.

“We’re roughly just in Sedgwick County alone, 16,500 children short of having childcare, so add that to the workforce that are struggling to hire as well, and most of it is because of the lack of childcare available,” said Bulluck.

She is urging other businesses to support childcare centers.

“If we can create this cycle of partnerships, we can probably help with not putting people in so much need of the funding,” she explained.

“The more people that are investing in childcare, the better we can bloom without little ones and seeing them prosper, we know our future generations are going to prosper,” added Jahnke.

Providers who sign up to accept families with Department for Children & Families services can receive a stipend to help with business expenses.