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ARPA’s One Year Anniversary – Riverside County’s Early Care and Education Recovery Fund

March 7, 2022

COVID-19 was a blur; days blended into weeks and months and suddenly it was 2022. Through the fogginess of the pandemic, there were multiple moments of brightness. One such moment was the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) that was signed by President Joe Biden on March 11, 2021 to facilitate the country’s recovery from COVID-19.  In all, California’s 58 counties received a total of $7.6 billion from the Act to: support COVID-19 response efforts, replace lost public sector revenue, support immediate economic stabilization, address systemic public health and economic challenges, and provide premium pay for essential workers, among others. To help celebrate the one year anniversary of this Act, CSAC will be highlighting, through social media posts and articles, some of the ARPA investments that California’s counties have been making.

Counties were given substantial flexibility to deploy ARPA funding in a variety of areas, including vaccine equity clinics, small business recovery, rental assistance, or workforce and childcare support, to name a few.

Riverside County is one county that is directing part of its ARPA investments into early childhood education and support. Specifically, the Board of Supervisors approved $15 million in ARPA funds for the establishment of the Early Care and Education (ECE) Recovery Fund, which stabilizes and expands availability of the ECE to support the return of working parents to the workforce.

The Recovery Fund will be distributed as follows:

  • $5 million ($1 million per Supervisorial district) for licensed childcare facility projects to increase the number of ECE spaces, with priority to projects leveraging municipal and/or state ARPA dollars. The funding will be granted to local childcare centers, including non-profits, colleges, school districts, businesses and other qualified entities providing or intending to provide early care and education services for children ages 0-3 through the established county contracting process. This allocation will build on First 5 Riverside County’s current $11.4 million ECE Infrastructure Investment.
  • $10 million to the ECE workforce and ECE businesses serving children supported by the California Alternative Payment Program (CAPP) through one-time payments for: current staff, new staff, and new CAPP providers to maximize state and federal expansion of ECE subsidies to parents or for overall operational support. This funding will be disbursed to the ECE Workforce and ECE businesses directly from First 5 and the Riverside County Office of Education using existing payment processing structures.

The ECE Recovery Fund will benefit children who are eligible for subsidized childcare and help reduce the number of Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) that this population of children face. ACEs are incidents that create toxic stress that can be harmful to a child’s mental and physical health and risk factors that increase the likelihood of ACEs include low incomes and high levels of parental or economic stress. ACEs can be combated, in part, by easy access to subsidized ECE, which allows parents to more fully participle in the workforce.

For more information about this ECE Recovery Fund, visit First Five Riverside County.

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