American Rescue Plan Act of 2021: Opportunities for Stabilizing the Most Fragile Part of the Child Care Market—Infant and Toddler Care
Unprecedented funding is being infused into the child care sector through American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds. A total of $39 billion is being dispersed across the states with the intention of helping to cover costs incurred through the pandemic that exacerbated an already financially vulnerable sector. Constraints within the child care sector made access to high-quality child care inequitable before the pandemic, so the added constraints from the pandemic put additional pressure on the sector, with concerning equity implications. ARPA discretionary funds require states to establish grant programs aimed at the sector’s recovery and stabilization. This Field Note recognizes major cost drivers in the child care sector, specifically those related to the delivery of infant/toddler care, and provides ideas for grant programs meant to be informative for both the near-term usage of ARPA funds as well as the long-term needs of the sector if we are to attain an equitable system of high-quality child care.