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Country Kids Business Benefits From CARES Act Grant Funds
Country Kids owner Dawn Briggs, center, who owns the business with husband Jeff, is shown here with daughters Samantha, left, and Sarah inside their Miller Avenue location. Photo Courtesy Of Country Kids

The local Country Kids Child Development Center was among more than 600 businesses in San Joaquin County to receive some funds through the CARES Act. It was one of seven Escalon businesses or non-profits to receive a grant, with the funding distributed for a variety of needs. Country Kids is on Miller Avenue in Escalon.

TMC Financing, an SBA 504 commercial real estate lender, and TMC Community Capital, its sister organization, a nonprofit fintech, teamed up with San Joaquin County to administer the program.

Funded by the federal government’s economic relief package, the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Securities Act (CARES ACT), the grant program provided immediate financial assistance. Over $6 million was provided to 644 small businesses and non-profits within county limits. Businesses and non-profits impacted by the pandemic were awarded grants of up to $100,000 by San Joaquin County’s Small Business Assistance Grant to support unfunded payroll, rent and lease, and personal protective equipment expenses.

“It has been interesting,” admitted Dawn Briggs, who is the owner/operator of Country Kids along with husband Jeff. “Right when it started, we had about 160 kids enrolled … our enrollment dropped to about 70 a day.”

That drop was almost immediate, when schools shut down in mid-March. As the weeks went by and more people started sheltering at home, there was a time when Country Kids dropped down to having roughly a dozen kids a day over about a three month period.

“A lot of parents got laid off or lost their jobs,” Briggs said of the steep drop in enrollment.

They basically kept the doors open, she said, for the kids of those ‘essential workers’ who had to continue to go to work. Country Kids, as other facilities, enacted strict guidelines and COVID-19 preventative protocols.

Slowly, they started to see more students coming back as families adapted to life amidst a pandemic.

They still are operating at only about 50 percent capacity and are working with students enrolled in distance learning for local schools, setting up work stations for those students.

It has required a lot of reorganizing, a lot of adapting and a huge commitment from the teachers who care for and work with the kids on a daily basis.

Briggs said they have kids enrolled from Transitional Kindergarten through sixth grade and cover multiple school sites, including Dent, Van Allen, Valley Home, Oakdale and Ripon, with students coming from all those locations.

“We are very fortunate, we have such a dedicated and caring staff,” Briggs added. “Our staff has been flexible; they have had to learn new routines.”

She said Country Kids benefited from a couple of different grant programs that have helped with everything from purchasing needed – and now more costly – cleaning supplies to helping meet payroll.

Country Kids is set to observe its 25th anniversary in business on Jan. 15, 2021 – having opened the doors in 1996.

With the grants, they feel confident they will soon be marking that silver anniversary and will continue to adhere to all guidelines and keep student and staff health and safety uppermost in mind as the coronavirus pandemic continues.

Contracted by the county to manage and process applications, the TMC staff independently evaluated and processed all grant materials, verifying them for completeness and ensuring compliance with all county terms and conditions prior to the grants being awarded.

Countywide, there were 644 total business approved out of 943 applicants. The average amount awarded was just over $7535 and more than $6 million in total grants were provided.

The top nine business sectors receiving the CARES Act grant awards were: Restaurants, Medical Offices, Personal Care Services, Dental Offices, Hotel/Motel/, Golf Courses and Country Clubs, Retail, Child Care, and Snack and Non-Alcoholic Beverage Bars.

Program officials noted that restaurants and other food service establishments received a combined total of more than $857,000.

“I felt the pain of the small business owners impacted by the pandemic – it was heartbreaking. One minute, entrepreneurs were fine, the next minute their businesses were closed, no revenue coming in. We knew that this grant partnership could really help those businesses struggling to recover,” said Barbara Morrison, President of TMC Financing.


Founded in 1981, TMC Financing is the No. 1 provider of SBA 504 commercial real estate financing throughout California and Nevada. The certified development (CDC) has provided $10 billion in financing for more than 6,000 businesses. Approximately 60,000 jobs have been created because of this financing.

For more information on the SBA 504 loan or TMC Community Capital’s microloan program and the local businesses they support, visit

Teachers at Escalon’s Country Kids Child Development Center have been called on for extra duties, such as helping students with distance learning, amid the coronavirus pandemic. The local business was among seven grant recipients in Escalon through the CARES Act funding program. Photo Courtesy Of Country Kids
A banner featuring handprints of students enrolled at County Kids graced the fence along Miller Avenue during the early days of the coronavirus pandemic in the spring. Photo Courtesy Of Country Kids