Historic Investments Help Improve the Lives of Children and Families through the American Rescue Plan Act

July 30, 2021
| By JooYeun Chang, ACF Acting Assistant Secretary  
American Rescue Plan graphic with diverse families in front of rural, suburban, and urban landscapes.

The American Rescue Plan Act (ARP) provides ACF an unprecedented $47.5 billion (PDF)designed to improve the lives of families and children devastated by the COVID-19 pandemic and resulting economic downturn. The Act provides funding for critical Administration for Children and Families (ACF) programs to rebuild communities, empower families, support child well-being, and address racial inequities. 

Communities need help now — which is why ACF has moved quickly to ensure our funds reach states, counties, territories and tribal nations this summer. As of July 16, we have awarded 3,000 grants to states, counties, territories, and tribes which account for 97% of our total ARP allocation.

On August 3, ACF will livestream Visit disclaimer page a national virtual convening bringing state and county leaders together for a learning exchange about promising strategies and approaches implemented to fully harness available resources.

We know that the COVID pandemic hit families with low-income and immigrant families the hardest, many of them people of color. These communities experienced job losses, child care inaccessibility and virtual education inequities to a greater extent than millions of other Americans. ARP will deliver immediate relief to families most in need by building a bridge to equitable economic recovery and reducing child poverty.

ARP investments are designed to create real and positive changes for Americans most in need of emergency relief. Here are a few examples of how some states are using the funds to make life better for those trying to recover from the pandemic’s impact:  

  • New Mexico used ARP funding to double the eligibility for childcare subsidy from 200 percent of the federal poverty level to as much as 400 percent, a move targeted at supporting tens of thousands more families in need. That action also helps more working families stabilize their financial situations and improve their chances of returning to work. 
  • Kansas intends to identify and target geographic areas with families most in need. The Children’s Cabinet and the University of Kansas’ Center for Public Partnerships and Research will conduct statewide mapping of social determinants of health and maltreatment rates and committed to a funding approach using an anti-racist frame that promotes equity and equality for all Kansas families.  
  • Washington State envisions using ARP funds to bring much-needed relief to communities, health systems, businesses and workers in the state. The federal money will provide billions of dollars in additional funding for vaccinations, testing and school reopening. The state plans to allocate some of the federal money to assist families with rent and utility bills and make state funding more flexible for needy residents impacted by COVID. 

We have already begun to see changes. At a Head Start program in Southeast Washington, DC — Martha’s Table -- the ACF team got to see first-hand the impact of expanded early childhood education services. Not only are more children receiving in person services, but Martha’s Table continues to offer no-cost weekday markets; after school enrichment programs; college and career readiness training to promote lifelong success; and a family engagement program which helps strengthen the home-school relationship for our students and connects caregivers to critical resources.  

I want to thank our incredible partners and grantees for their work assisting families and rebuilding communities with ARP funds.  Children, families, and communities will get the help they need right now because of the American Rescue Plan. 

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