Tarrant County received a total of $408 million from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) to help combat the lingering impacts of COVID-19 and must now approve plans for spending the funds. Tarrant County commissioners voted unanimously on Tuesday to allocate $45 million in ARPA monies to child care in Tarrant County.
Judge Glen Whitley said he was “thrilled” to apply the funding to “expand and enhance the [childcare] industry.”
Precinct 2 Commissioner Devan Allen did voice concerns from some “mom-and-pop” childcare centers that they would not be able to meet the demands of the new program, but ultimately voted in favor of the initiative.
Of the $45 million, commissioners are allocating $2 million to improve the “quality and quantity” of childcare enterprises, $15 million to improve the overall level of support for children and their families, and $28 million to expand infant-toddler access and infrastructure for “high-needs families.”
Child Care Associates (CCA), a nonprofit backed by the Blue Ribbon Action Committee on Child Care, was enlisted by the County to help guide spending on this project. CCA provides early education programs to children and their families by reducing costs for low-income families and enhancing child care throughout Tarrant County.
Rose Bradshaw of the Blue Ribbon Action Committee commented:
“Our working families and the economy rely on convenient access to child care. The Blue Ribbon Action Committee applauds the state’s support for certified childcare providers in our neighborhood. That investment was coupled with more extensive business mentoring to ensure that these enterprises are strategic in how they deploy this stabilization financing for long-term success.”
The $15 million component will go toward ensuring Tarrant County’s best childcare providers continue to serve its children. In collaboration with CCA, the County will provide agreements in full child support to counteract the actual costs of high-quality child care, raise childcare workers’ salaries, and extend child support to children in such programs.
“We are delighted that the County’s investment in toddlers and infants is helping to stabilize our top-quality childcare services in our most needy communities,” said Child Care Associates. “These childcare contracts assist in offsetting the rising expenses of providing quality care while also fostering whole child supports.”
CCA and Tarrant County will seek public-private partnerships to double the County’s $28 million commitment and establish 50 infant-toddler classrooms in high-need neighborhoods.
“Bringing Early Head Start programs to some of our most underserved neighborhoods is a beautiful development. Offering high-quality early education and care programs for babies and toddlers of families in need remains utterly untapped,” said Roy C. Brooks, Precinct 1 commissioner.