Washtenaw County commissioners commit $2 million to address local childcare needs

A child plays with building blocks. (Pixabay)

ANN ARBOR – The Washtenaw County Board of Commissioners have allocated $2 million to support local families struggling with access to childcare.

The move is part of round one of the Washtenaw County Rescue Plan, which was unanimously approved by the Board of Commissioners on Sept. 15 during their regular meeting.

The rescue plan aims to maximize the American Rescue Plan Act and other similar COVID response funds to help ensure equitable futures for Washtenaw County residents.

“We know that low-income families have been hit particularly hard during this ongoing pandemic,” Sue Shink, Chair of the Board of Commissioners and Commissioner for District 2 said in a statement. “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.”

According to the resolution, $1 million of county general funds will be paired with up to $1 million of ARPA funds to provide financial assistance and navigation services to low-income families in the county.

The Board of Commissioners hope to address the emerging need for before and after school programs that saw reduced capacity or were closed due in part to the pandemic, as well as systemic disparities for those who don’t have access to high-quality childcare.

“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,” Caroline Sanders, Commissioner for District 4 said in a statement. “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,” Andy LaBarre, Commissioner for District 7 said in a statement. “The last 18 months demonstrated these facts clearly, and Washtenaw County residents directly communicated that meeting this need is a top priority.

“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.”

The county administration has begun working with community stakeholders to help make funds immediately available to local families in need.

About the Author:

Meredith has worked for WDIV since August 2017 and was voted one of Washtenaw County's best journalists in 2019 by eCurrent's readers. She covers the community of Ann Arbor and has a Master's degree in International Broadcast Journalism from City University London, UK.