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Washtenaw County, MI – In September 2021, the Board of Commissioners allocated $2 million to equitably address childcare access as part of the Washtenaw County Rescue Plan. This investment included dollars from both the American Rescue Plan and County general fund. After a competitive funding round to solicit responses from local providers, the Child Care Network was selected to implement these funds to provide financial assistance and navigation services.
“Between the immediate issues facing families attending Ann Arbor Public Schools and the longstanding childcare access disparities in the county, this funding was necessary to address huge needs, especially for women trying to manage workforce participation and childcare availability,” said Commissioner Andy LaBarre, County Commissioner for District 7.
At their Working Session meeting last night, the Board received an update on the status of this investment, which included the first reported data on the reach of this program. The presentation highlighted that the Child Care Network utilized an initial allocation of $400,000 to greatly expand their capacity to leverage these funds, hiring several new staff in 2021 to manage their Family Support Program. In addition to hiring and onboarding staff, they were also able to begin putting these county dollars to use.
As of December 2021, Child Care Network provided navigation and financial assistance support to help an additional 150 children from 117 Washtenaw County families access high-quality childcare that met their needs. All families were either living at or below 60% of the area median income or were living or accessing services in a qualified census tract. Other information about the families served so far can be found here.
“An investment in helping families access childcare is an investment in the wellbeing of their whole family,” said Sue Shink, Chair of the Board of Commissioners and Commissioner for District 2. “It’s exciting to see this important work to ensure families have the resources they need to succeed begin and we look forward to it reaching more Washtenaw County families in 2022.”
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.
Entering 2022, the majority of these expanded funds are still available for families in need of support. To learn more, including how to request assistance, visit the Child Care Network’s website.
“We are strongly encouraging everyone who may need assistance finding and affording childcare to apply,” said Annette Sobocinski, Executive Director of the Child Care Network. “Childcare is an integral piece to helping children and families succeed, and we want to make sure we are supporting as many Washtenaw County families as possible with these funds.”