The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the gap within child care services that have significantly impacted parents and their children. To address these challenges and support the increasing need for child care on Guam, Governor Lou Leon Guerrero signed Executive Order 2021-26 relative to establishing the Division of Children’s Wellness within the Department of Public Health and Social Services (DPHSS).
The Division of Children’s Wellness comprises the Bureau of Social Services to include Child Protective Services (CPS) and the Bureau of Child Care Services, a new bureau responsible for the general administration of all federally funded child care programs and grant funds, in addition to the Child Care Development Fund (CCDF) Section. The new division shall launch and begin managing all federal and local child care programs by January 1, 2022.
“By creating the Division of Children’s Wellness, we are addressing an urgent need on our island and committing to pushing federal funds out to our community that will increase child care eligibility, provide financial support to existing child care providers, and expand programs that grow our child care services and support child care in underserved communities,” said Governor Lou Leon Guerrero. “Early in our administration, we identified significant shortfalls in the resources that serve our vulnerable children and their families. Our existing child care centers fill only 6% of our community’s needs, so we have directed the funds and resources necessary to improve, protect, and sustain child care for all our families in need.”
“When we declared a state of emergency for the operational state of CPS earlier this year (Executive Order 2021-02), it was clear we needed long-term solutions to address this vulnerable population. Similar to the Division of Senior Citizens also under Public Health, the Division of Children’s Wellness is specific to our youth. With a more defined purpose, the comprehensive plan provides stability, efficiency, and improvement to our children’s programs. By supporting our daycares and increasing our capacities, we also create an avenue for parents to concentrate on finding gainful employment or pursue higher education,” said Lieutenant Governor Josh Tenorio. “We also want to put an end to cycles of poverty, and supporting child wellness is key in rebuilding our workforce, strengthening the family foundation, and enabling our children to overcome barriers to a positive future outlook.”