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Washtenaw County, MI – The Washtenaw County Board of Commissioners have committed $2 million to equitably address childcare access needs in Washtenaw County. This commitment is part of the first round of the Washtenaw County Rescue Plan allocations, which were unanimously approved by the Board of Commissioners at their September 15th meeting. The Washtenaw County Rescue Plan leverages the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) and other related funds to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic and create a more equitable future for county residents.
“We know that low-income families have been hit particularly hard during this ongoing pandemic,” said Sue Shink, Chair of the Board of Commissioners and Commissioner for District 2. “This one-time funding supports families faced with the challenge of trying to balance childcare and their careers. These resources will help relieve some of the immediate pressure and afford us time to develop a long-term, sustainable solution for families to ensure we are encouraging generational success.”
The resolution states that up to $1 million of ARPA Funds will be paired with $1 million from the county general fund to provide navigation and financial assistance services to low-income families throughout Washtenaw County. With this framework, the Board of Commissioners hope to start addressing systemic disparities related to having access to high-quality childcare services, as well as address emergent needs related to the recently reduced capacity or closing of before-and-after school programs due in part to COVID-19.
“As a single mother, and now as a grandmother, who has struggled with finding reliable and affordable childcare, I know how just how important this issue is,” said Caroline Sanders, Commissioner for District 4. “It can be extremely challenging for families to find the time, energy, and resources needed to navigate the overly complicated process of securing a high-quality childcare provider that meets their needs. This resolution is an important step in providing much-needed support to local families.”
“Access to child care is a basic need for children and families to succeed, especially when they face challenging economic circumstances. The last 18 months demonstrated these facts clearly, and Washtenaw County residents directly communicated that meeting this need is a top priority,” said Andy LaBarre, Commissioner for District 7. “I am grateful for the rest of the Board, our county staff, and community partners for working swiftly to make this important decision. I look forward to continuing to support this work moving forward.”
County Administration will begin working with key community stakeholders to operationalize this resolution and make funds available to families in our community as soon as possible.