Local ARPA funds to support children

From diapers to shelters, America’s rescue plan’s historic resources have created tremendous opportunities to address local needs. Local governments and school boards across North Carolina are using these funds to make innovative investments in the community groups that know their communities best. A new tool from the Southern Economic Advancement Project shows how and where those funds are being spent.

Guilford County

Guilford County Commissioners have been proactive in soliciting ideas and spending bailout funds on high-impact local projects that benefit children. The Commissioners just committed $1.5 million to Ready for School, Ready for Life to support a service navigator in every OB/GYN and pediatric practice in Guilford County. Beginning before birth, Navigators connect families to the local programs and services designed to help them have healthy pregnancies and strong early childhood years.

Cumberland County

Cumberland County Commissioners just allocated an additional $500,000 for much-needed rental assistance. Because the demand for affordable housing is high, the program aims to help families with annual incomes that are 80% or less of the county’s median income or below.

Forsyth County

Forsyth County Commissioners recently invested dollars in the federal bailout plan to expand Pre-K services to an additional 30 classrooms. This move will help Forsyth County early childhood advocates move closer to the goal of a universal P=Pre-K in the county.

durham

In Bull City, Durham City Council just approved a $340,000 bailout grant for Book Harvest. The nonprofit, which promotes early education and literacy, will use the funds to build more than 60 bookcases across the city. Book Harvest plans to place the bookcases in neighborhoods where young children are least likely to have their own library at home.

Western NC

Babies Need Bottoms, the only diaper bank in Western NC, distributed more than 187,000 diapers in 2020 – a 393% increase over the previous year. In response to the tremendous increase in demand, Buncombe County Commissioners recently allocated $50,000 in bailout funding to the program.

What about your community?

To date, local governments in North Carolina have committed over $1 billion to support community efforts ranging from replacing aging local infrastructure to job training and service programs. About $375 million remains to be decided by city and county governments, according to the Southern Economic Advancement Project tracker.

Is your local government using bailout plan funds to address the needs of children and families? Use the SEAP tracker to find out.

Adam Sotak

Adam Sotak is Co-Director of Community Engagement at NC Child.

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