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Maximizing Federal Funding

BUILD is dedicated to helping leaders maximize federal funding opportunities that present states with their best chances of getting large infusions of funding to plan, accelerate, and/or sustain their early childhood systems-building work and to address racial and economic inequities.

Rethinking Funding

BUILD has always placed a priority on helping leaders rethink states’ use of existing funding to improve access to high-quality programs and services and cross-systems integration to provide comprehensive supports and family-friendly experiences. How states use existing funds speaks to their priorities and their willingness to explore and address inequities.

If states are not using data (quantitative and qualitative) and learning from the families using the programs and services—or for whom the programs and services were intended but who are not accessing them—about how to improve the design and delivery, then additional funding will also likely be used in non-responsive ways. Nevertheless, BUILD is also dedicated to helping states seek and use additional funding. We also use these opportunities to raise questions about who is being well served by early childhood programs and services and who is not, whose voices are heard, and who should be included in the design, decision-making, and implementation.

Historic Opportunity

Currently, the most significant opportunity for states, counties, cities, communities, and schools to rethink supports for young children and their families is through the three federal relief and stimulus packages: the CARES Act, signed in March 2020, CRRSA (the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriates Act) signed in December 2020, and ARPA (the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021) signed in March 2021. With these three pieces of legislation, the federal government has earmarked $50 billion for child care alone.

Our country faced devastating child care challenges pre-pandemic, which the crisis only exacerbated, but this investment offers leaders a chance to reinvent, rebuild, and create a system of early care and education centered on families, especially those who have been marginalized by racism, and with the potential to reward providers with significantly enhanced compensation and benefits.

The federal dollars also can help leaders expand and improve home visiting and early intervention services for infants and toddlers, fund community health centers, identify homeless children and provide them with comprehensive supports, expand SNAP, invest in broadband, and improve access to clean drinking water. The legislation includes incentives for states to expand Medicaid, subsidies to defray COBRA premiums for those who lost job-based insurance, and much more.

Our Approach

BUILD is helping state and community leaders—those in public-sector jobs with authority over the funds and private-sector leaders who can make recommendations and solicit input from communities and families—make plans for best use of the funds. BUILD is:

  • Providing tailored consultation and technical assistance to state leaders.
  • Convening small groups of peers across states to share information about a shared strategy such as providing health benefits to child care workers.
  • Cultivating innovative, high-impact proposals on priority topics through small think tanks and topical groups on, for example, emerging bilingual learners, home-based child care, and infants and toddlers.
  • Enabling cross-state discussion and information-sharing through the NCIT XChange.
  • Lifting up important information or promising strategies to all 50 states, the territories, and tribes.
  • Partnering with 20+ other organizations to facilitate coordination, stretch resources, and ensure that each state and community that seeks support gets it.
  • Documenting impact so that policymakers understand the positive outcomes for families with young children that result from the federal investments.

ARPA Child Care Stabilization Grants Tracker

Through the American Rescue Plan Act, states, tribes, and territories have access to $24 billion in child care stabilization grant funding. The vast majority of that funding must be subgranted to eligible child care providers. States and territories are gradually releasing subgrant applications for providers.

Those subgrant applications are the vehicle through which child care providers can access stabilization grant funding. In subgrant applications, states and territories define how much stabilization funding child care providers can receive through a grant formula. This document reviews states’ and territories’ subgrant applications and formulas through the lens of two questions:

  •  How, if at all, are states and territories financially acknowledging or awarding providers for caring for infants and toddlers or dual-language learners?
  • How, if at all, are states, territories, and tribes incentivizing providers to support increases in workforce compensation?
  • What other priorities, if any, does the state or territory communicate in its subgrant application?

Grant Funding

Until this set of federal relief bills, federal grant opportunities have presented states with their best opportunity to get large infusions of funding to plan, accelerate, and/or sustain their early childhood systems building work.

Federal grant competitions can be daunting; they require extensive effort to complete the application process and submit a winning bid. State leaders typically find their resources are stretched thin by their day-to-day work.  Adding the workload associated with federal grant applications can present significant challenges. Often, state leaders are so focused on meeting the requirements of an application and obtaining the maximum points for various grant sections that they spend little time viewing the grant as a funding stream for their state’s early childhood vision and goals.

BUILD Helps States Win and Implement Federal Funding

Our technical assistance and consultation provide support before grants are awarded, during the implementation process, and after the grant period.

BUILD provides support during each grant phase.

Before grants are awarded:

  • Helping states create effective cross-sector, multi-agency teams to develop their plans and applications in a way that integrates the effort into their larger, existing state vision and goals.
  • Brokering consultation with national, regional, and state subject-matter experts.
  • Creating short resources that share promising strategies related to key application sections.
  • Providing reviewers to suggest revisions or areas that need further work before submission.

During the grant implementation process:

  • Providing technical assistance to help states carry out their plans and use their funding effectively.
  • Providing peer-learning opportunities so that states can share strategies, co-create solutions to common challenges, and support each other’s success.
  • Providing states with advice and support on documentation and evaluation.
  • Helping states plan for sustainability after the grant period ends and the funding stream disappears.

After the grant period:

  • Helping states learn from their experiences- both the successes and challenges.
  • Documenting and sharing the collective lessons learned from all participating states to inform and inspire policymakers, philanthropic funders, and other early childhood stakeholders.
  • Helping states build on the momentum and achievements made possible by the federal funding.

Through our work with states on federal initiatives, we have created a rich learning community to support leaders in seeking federal funding. This learning community provides:

  • An opportunity to co-create strategies with state leaders to address persistent early childhood inequities. The prospect of an influx of funding facilitates state leaders’ willingness to think outside the box and push toward their vision for equity, increased access to and quality of policies, and family-friendly programs and services serving young children and their families.
  • A point-in-time scan of state achievements and ideas. We cull applications for a state-of-the-states view, which then informs our collective understanding of additional strategies that can be used.
  • We bring our partners to the table. Because of our deep, lasting partnerships with a broad array of national organizations and subject matter experts, we can marshal the current best thinking in the field. This collaborative spirit fuels our work on maximizing federal initiatives.

Preschool Development Birth Through Five

The Preschool Development Grants Birth through Five (PDG B-5) are the latest in a series of federal grant opportunities designed to support state early childhood systems building as a means of promoting stronger child outcomes.

The grants focused on three major activities:

  • Maximizing parental choice.
  • Improving transitions from one early care and learning program to another and from early care and learning programs to elementary school.
  • Improving overall quality of ECE programs.

Ongoing Federal Funding Stream – Child Care and Development Block Grant

The Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG) is the primary federal funding stream providing child care assistance for families and support for child care quality initiatives. States use the funding, administered to them in formula block grants, to subsidize child care for low-income working families. CCDBG also funds Child Care Resource and Referral services and quality projects for infants and toddlers. Funded at $5.826 billion for FY20, Congress then allocated an additional $10 billion in December 2020, under the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021, and $3.5 billion through the CARES Act in March 2020. In addition, ARPA allocated $14.99 billion in supplemental CCDF Discretionary Funds, available until September 30, 2024.

The ARPA guidance clearly underscores the importance of rate increases, thereby providing states with the opportunity to begin fixing the broken strategy of linking subsidy to market rates rather than the cost of quality. Concern over the cost of increasing all rates with what is being called one-time funding may lead to the equitable approach of creating differential rate increases guided by costs rather than market prices where they are most necessary–for infant/toddler care and in communities that are rural and/or marginalized due to racism and resulting poverty.


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