(FORT WORTH, TX) – Today, the Tarrant County Commissioners Court approved a $45 million investment of American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds for child care across the county. The funding will strengthen child care businesses and quality ($2 million); stabilize quality child care and increase whole child supports ($15 million); and expand infant-toddler access and infrastructure for highest need families ($28 million).
Through the ARPA, Tarrant County received $408 million to mitigate the ongoing effects of COVID-19 and support pandemic recovery. On March 1 of this year, 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. 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,” said Tarrant County Judge Glen Whitley.
To implement the investment in child care, the county partnered with Child Care Associates (CCA), a nonprofit supported with ongoing guidance from the Blue Ribbon Action Committee on Child Care. The Action Committee was recently formed in partnership with Tarrant County, the city of Fort Worth and the city of Arlington.
Strengthen Child Care Businesses
The county’s $2 million investment expands the $3 million in funding from Workforce Solutions for Tarrant County to strengthen child care businesses and expand child care quality. This is in addition to $3.4 billion in historic funding from the Texas Workforce Commission to stabilize child care businesses statewide.
“Our working families and economy depend on easy access to child care. 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,” added Rose Bradshaw, co-chair of the Blue Ribbon Action Committee.
Stabilize Quality Child Care and Whole Child Supports
The county has dedicated $15 million to sustain Tarrant County’s highest quality child care providers already serving infants and toddlers. The county 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.
“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. These child care contracts help to offset the higher costs of delivering quality care while also promoting whole child supports,” commented CCA President and CEO Kara Waddell.
Expand Infant-Toddler Access and Infrastructure for Highest Need Families
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. 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,” said Tarrant County Commissioner, Precinct 1, Roy C. Brooks.
About Child Care Associates
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.
Visit us at childcareassociates.org/head-start-early-head-start for eligibility and enrollment information. For more information, visit childcareassociates.org.
For more information on Tarrant County’s COVID-19 recovery efforts, visit tarrantcounty.com/recovery.