The state had just enough to help 33,000 workers and hopes to help more in the coming weeks.By Meghan Schiller

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — They keep our children safe during the workday, and soon many childcare workers will see a small bump in their paychecks.

It’s a one time, $600 grant for some 33,000 workers across the Commonwealth. KDKA’s Meghan Schiller stopped by one Hopewell daycare at nap time and talked to owner Kimberly Schalk.

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“I’m very appreciative of the health care workers, I’m very appreciative of the frontline workers. We wouldn’t have gotten this far without them, but I do feel that we’re apart of that group when we’re caring for the children of the families that are working,” said Schalk, the owner of Footprints in the Sand Daycare.

That’s why she said she didn’t sleep on the chance to get $600 for each of her nine employees on Monday.

“I received the open application at 8:30 a.m. and I got my application in at 9:05 a.m,” Schalk said.

Childcare center owner Schalk told KDKA she acted fast because it’s the first time she’s seen available relief for her industry during the coronavirus pandemic. She said daycare workers were some of the hardest hit by the lockdowns last spring. She closed her doors from March 21 until June 9.

“Daycare is not a very high paying industry and they have a lot of responsibilities and they have big hearts and the loyalty that they have — I know I’m blessed here with the staff that I have,” said Schalk.

KDKA asked the state “What is a pandemic relief award?”

“A pandemic childcare worker relief award is a $600 award to individual childcare employees that their employer would apply on their behalf to receive,” said Tracey Campanini, the deputy secretary of the Office of Child Development and Early Learning.

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Schalk wants to help her employees, including Morgan Brown, who would use the money for basic needs.

“The most expensive thing that we have right now is just rent,” said Brown.

Campanini told KDKA that the funds were exhausted within hours. The state had just enough to help 33,000 workers and hopes to help more in the coming weeks.

“We are anticipating as a Commonwealth a portion of the Consolidated Appropriations Act from the federal government, and so we are collecting a waitlist because we’ve already exhausted the available funds,” Campanini said.

Governor Tom Wolf announced Monday another $10 billion could soon support childcare. The states are expected to receive the money in the coming weeks.

It is the type of support that Schalk believes her employees deserve.

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“These girls do this because they love the children. They do this because they’re serving the families.”

Meghan Schiller