One of the more unexpected challenges directly tied to the COVID-19 pandemic has been the need for states to quickly determine eligibility and then distribute federal and state relief funds earmarked to help people in need.
The American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) passed in March 2021 included substantial funding focused on bolstering the child care market. The State of Indiana alone received over half a billion dollars to support child care, to be administered by the Office of Early Childhood and Out-of-School Learning (OECOSL) within a very tight federally mandated timeline—over half that money had to be distributed by the end of 2021.
Modernized Indiana acted quickly to release ARPA funds
Many states were overwhelmed trying to meet specified requirements because they lacked the infrastructure and modernization to do so. Indiana, however, has modernized agencies with a robust track record of making data-driven decisions, and knew they needed an application process to quickly disburse ARPA funds to those who needed them most. They called on Resultant to help build the mechanism for providers to apply, receive, and account for stabilization grants through OECOSL.
OECOSL knew the child care market was strained before the pandemic ever hit and had already been focusing efforts on improving it. Parents were struggling to find affordable enrollment openings in qualified care centers, greatly impacting their ability to join or remain in the workforce. When COVID came, many providers were forced to close because they couldn’t keep up with increased costs to safely provide care or hire enough qualified staff to do so, and the issues in the child care market grew.
The ARPA funds would have tremendous impact, but before they could do so, Indiana needed to be able to reach these providers where they were. It’s an industry populated with many small businesses, often run out of providers’ homes and dependent on paper records. The application process needed to be as user-friendly as possible, acknowledging that many providers would be gathering required data from scratch.
Accountability for good stewardship
While federal eligibility guidelines were specified, states had a measure of autonomy above that. OECOSL wanted to ensure good stewardship of the ARPA funds. By implementing accountability into the application process of a two-round distribution, OECOSL helped lay the foundation for the work that will remain to improve the Indiana child care market once the funding is gone.
Learn more about how Resultant helped OECOSL successfully distribute ARPA funds to those most in need within the federal timeline.