BLOG: Federal Relief to Save DC Child Care

April 8, 2021
Blog Post

A group of protesters holding up signs in front a government building

By Jarred Bowman, Policy Analyst


This March, Congress passed the American Rescue Plan (ARP), which promises nearly $65 million in relief funding to support the District’s child care community. Of this $65 million, about $40 million is available to stabilize the child care sector by making these funds available to all early education programs. The other $25 million can support long-term system improvements through the Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDGB). Today, DC Action and 28 other organizations submitted a letter to Mayor Bowser asking her to use these funds swiftly and as part of a strategy to make long-term improvements to the District’s early learning system. Our recommendations are:

  • Increase the amount and reach of relief grants for all types of child care programs
  • Pay programs participating in the child care subsidy program based on child enrollment rather than attendance
  • Provide wage supplement stipends to early educators and child care staff for the duration of the public health emergency
  • Pay early learning programs enough to cover the actual cost of high-quality early learning during the pandemic and beyond

While additional federal guidance about the use of ARP funds is still forthcoming, the federal Administration for Children and Families has encouraged states to use CCDBG to use funds to make bold systems changes. Our letter to Mayor Bowser includes details about how to do just that in service a more equitable, accessible, and high-quality early learning system.

Before the American Rescue Plan, the District of Columbia received two federal relief packages that contained dedicated funds for stabilizing the child care sector. The first package was part of the 2020 Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES) ($6 million). Mayor Bowser used it to provide child care for essential workers, help stabilize the child care sector, and support providers in meeting new costs. This money included the DC Child Care Provider Relief Fund grant program, and paying programs set subsidy reimbursement rates based on pre-COVID payments. The second federal relief package, the Coronavirus Relief and Recovery Supplemental Appropriations Act of 2021 (CRRSA), passed in December of 2020 and provides an additional $16.7 million in child care relief funding to help preserve and sustain this essential public need in the District.

In the table below, you will find information on what we know so far about DC’s use of federal child care relief funds to date.


Federal COVID-19 Child Care Relief and Stabilization Funds for DC to date (April 2021)

Federal Relief Packages Date Congress Passed Legislation Amount DC Funding Use
American Rescue Plan March 2021 $65 million Use of funds to be determined. Please refer to our recommendations to Mayor Bowser.
Coronavirus Relief and Recovery Supplemental Appropriations Act of 2021 (CRRSAA) December 2020 $16.7 million $10.7 million –

A new grant program to deliver financial relief to licensed child care facilities.

$3 million –

A new fund to deliver targeted assistance to providers affected by the public health emergency.

$3 million –

To expand the DC Road to Recovery Fund from $2.8 million to $5.8 million, enabling that program to fund grants to all eligible applicants.

Governor’s Emergency Education Relief Fund II (GEER II Fund) December 2020 $2.5 million $2.5 million –

To provide additional financial assistance to providers.

Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES) March 2020 $6 million $2.8 million – Emergency grants to providers added to the DC Road to Recovery Fund.
$1.4 million –

Stand up and support emergency child care for essential workers during spring and summer 2020

$1.7 million – Covered additional costs of continuing subsidy payments to providers from March-September of 2020