Making the Most of American Rescue Plan Funding in States

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State and local decision-makers, technical assistance providers, advocates and grassroots organizations working with parents and early educators need resources immediately to make long-needed reforms.

With new federal funds for child care and early childhood systems coming to states, tribes, and localities, there is an unprecedented opportunity to improve access to quality care and support the equitable use of public dollars for children, families, and early educators.  The level of investment for children’s programs from coronavirus response legislation is unprecedented. For example, the total federal share of the Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG) was $7.7 billion in FY 2019. Since March 2020 $28.5 billion in flexible federal funding was added to CCDBG to pay for relief efforts, and $24 billion was appropriated for states, Tribal Nations and territories to create grant programs to stabilize child care providers.  Lastly, the mandatory portion of federal child care funding includes $355 million more and will be renewed going forward. (Learn more about other federal relief funds made available for children’s programs from the The Children’s Funding Project)

There are also barriers to making change in states that need attention. Foundations need to be aware that there are real barriers to transformative change for child care that they can help address in states, such as lack of administrative staff capacity; concern that Federal dollars will not be sustained or unwillingness to take them, required state legislative and executive processes; underlying beliefs or myths about welfare; and systems that are not designed equitably.

ECFC has formed a member workgroup to strategically align funder response and make the most of this opportunity. Strategic use of foundation dollars can systematically reduce the barriers to transformation.


The ECFC ARP Workgroup has identified strategies in the categories of Advocacy/Organizing, Implementation and Documentation of Impact.   A June 3rd Memo to Early Childhood Funders about opportunities to support state implementation of ARP funding describes the current situation, a framework for foundations to support change, and ECFC activities. 

State and local foundations can play an active role in supporting transformational implementation of new federal relief funds. Following on previous relief bills in 2020, the new American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA includes an additional $49 billion for the Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG) and a new grant-based Stabilization program. The responsibility for implementation falls to state leaders. Yet, these same leaders may be exhausted from a year of responding to the pandemic crisis and operating at low staff capacity. They need support from executive leadership and the state legislature for transformative reforms. Private foundations can help alleviate these barriers and partner for transformational change.

5 Tips for Foundations for Partnering with State Government on Strategic Use of Federal Relief Funds for Early Childhood, a compilation of top ideas from experienced state funders.

For more information about ECFC’s work around implementation of ARP funding, contact Rachel Schumacher, ECFC advisor.

Photo credit: Photo by AbsolutVision on Unsplash

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