The Tarrant County Commissioners Court has approved a $45 million investment of American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds for child care across the county. A portion of the funds will be implemented in partnership with Child Care Associates (CCA).
The funding includes $2 million to strengthen child care businesses and quality, $15 million to stabilize quality child care and increase whole child supports, and $28 million to expand infant-toddler access and infrastructure for highest need families. CCA will implement the investment in child care, supported by ongoing guidance from the Blue Ribbon Action Committee on Child Care that was recently formed in partnership with Tarrant County, the city of Fort Worth and the city of Arlington.
Through the ARPA, Tarrant County received $408 million to mitigate the ongoing effects of COVID-19 and support pandemic recovery. On March 1, the Commissioners Court approved a budget that allocated all $408 million to various focus areas and goals, including $45 million to increase access to high quality child care and early learning in Tarrant County.
“The pandemic both highlighted and intensified the need for affordable, high quality child care for families in Tarrant County,” said Tarrant County Judge Glen Whitley. “I’m thrilled that we’re applying these once-in-a-lifetime funds to expand and strengthen the industry, so that more parents have the support they need, and more children have access to transformational childhood development.”
The county has dedicated $15 million to sustain Tarrant County’s highest quality child care providers already serving infants and toddlers. It will partner with CCA to provide Sustainability Contracts with Whole Child Supports to offset the actual costs of quality child care, enhance child care educator salaries, and expand whole child supports to children in these programs.
“Our working families and economy depend on easy access to child care,” said Rose Bradshaw, co-chair of the Blue Ribbon Action Committee. “The Blue Ribbon Action Committee recognizes the remarkable support coming from the state directly to licensed child care providers in our community. We saw a unique opportunity to couple that investment with more intensive business coaching to help ensure these businesses are strategic in how they invest this stabilization funding for long-term success.”
To maximize existing infrastructure and resources, the county and Child Care Associates will seek partnerships with municipalities, ISDs, higher education and other public entities with a goal of doubling the county’s investment of $28 million and adding 50 new infant-toddler classrooms in high need neighborhoods. This infrastructure investment has the potential to draw down a projected $160 million in Early Head Start funding for Tarrant County families over 20 years.
”I am thrilled that Tarrant County and CCA together can expand Early Head Start services for infants and toddlers in some of our highest need neighborhoods,” said Tarrant County Commissioner, Precinct 1, Roy C. Brooks. “The greatest return on investment in education remains largely untapped – providing high quality early education and care services for infants and toddlers of families who need those services.”
Child Care Associates (CCA) is one of the largest child development nonprofits in North Texas and has served more than half a million young children over the past 54 years. Through Head Start, Early Head Start and Child Care Management Services, CCA delivers quality early education programs to children and families of disadvantaged means, offsetting the high cost of child care for lower-income working families and increasing the quality of child care delivered across Tarrant County.
“Child Care Associates is thrilled that the county is investing in infants and toddlers by helping stabilize our highest quality child care providers in our highest need neighborhoods,” said CCA President and CEO Kara Waddell. “These child care contracts help to offset the higher costs of delivering quality care while also promoting whole child supports.”