American Rescue Plan

The American Rescue Plan (ARP) provides critical and unprecedented support to children, families, and communities in response to the COVID pandemic and resulting economic downturn, which have been exacerbated by historic racial injustices. ARP funding provides a comprehensive approach to transform the way we support children and families to meet communities where they are and address system inequalities.

As a bold step forward in the fight for our children’s future, the American Rescue Plan aims to cut child poverty in half and funds essential services such as child care, Head Start, preventative child welfare interventions, family violence prevention, energy assistance, and short-term pandemic emergency assistance.

As one of the largest stimulus packages in U.S. history, the American Rescue Plan provides ACF with resources to better serve the children, families, and communities we serve now, as well as build a strong foundation for the next generation. 


Optimizing American Rescue Plan Act Funds

Make the most of American Rescue Plan Act (ARP) funding according to the specific needs of your communities.

Hear from peers in other localities about promising strategies and approaches implemented to fully harness available resources.

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Child Welfare

The ARP includes $350 million for family supports, child abuse prevention services, and improvements to child abuse investigations with an emphasis on preventing foster care placements and maintaining children in their own homes whenever they may do so safely.  Families are facing increased stressors related to financial hardship and isolation during this pandemic; thus, increasing the risk for child abuse and neglect.

The $350 million in ARP funds allocated for child welfare are divided into two funding streams:

  • $250 million for Community-Based Child Abuse Prevention (CBCAP) Program grants to provide child abuse prevention services and improve child abuse investigations. Whenever it is safe to do so, CBCAP Program grant funds will be used for family services to prevent child removals into foster care and maintain children in their own homes.
  • $100 million for Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (CAPTA) State grants to improve the child protective services system of each state.

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Energy/Utility Assistance

Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP)

The ARP includes $4.5 billion in additional LIHEAP funding to help low-income families impacted by the COVID pandemic afford home heating and cooling costs and meet unpaid electric and natural gas bills. These funds will also help families make cost-effective home energy repairs.

The $4.5 billion of ARP funding for LIHEAP will:

  • Add to the $3.75 billion appropriated by the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021, to total to more than $8 billion in energy assistances grants available in Fiscal Year (FY) 2021.   
  • Remain available for obligation by grantees through FY 2022.

The ARP funds for LIHEAP are intended to:

  • Prevent unsafe indoor temperatures and unmanageable utility arrearages that can lead to utility shut-offs.
  • Help households with limited incomes pay their utility bills and use their financial resources for other critical necessities such as food, housing, and medicine instead.
  • Help vulnerable households with very young children, individuals with disabilities, and older individuals meet their home energy needs.

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Low Income Household Water Assistance Program (LIHWAP)

The ARP includes $500 million to assist low income households across the U.S., particularly those with the lowest incomes, with drinking water and wastewater bills. It is critical for individuals and families to have access to clean drinking water and wastewater services amid the increased financial strain that millions of households are experiencing during the COVID pandemic.

The $500 million of ARP funding for LIHWAP will:

  • Add to the $638 million that was originally appropriated in the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021, which established LIHWAP as the first-of-its-kind water assistance program at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
  • Be used to award grants to states, territories, and tribes to work in partnership with private owners and operators of public water systems and treatment to help low-income households pay their water bills and reduce arrearages.

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Family Violence/Sexual Assault Prevention & Support

The ARP includes $450 million for the Family Violence Prevention Services Act (FVPSA) program to fund family violence and sexual assault prevention and support services, as well as increase the safety and well-being of violent assault and sexual assault survivors and their families through economic and health resources.

The $450 million of ARP funding is allocated as follows:

  • $180 million for grants to support domestic violence services, including emergency shelters, prevention services, and technical assistance. 
  • $18 million for grants to 252 tribes.
  • $2 million for grant awards to the National Domestic Violence Hotline. The ARP requires that $1 million of those funds be used to support tribal communities (i.e., the StrongHearts Native Helpline).
  • $49.5 million for a new competitive grant program to support community-based culturally specific activities for survivors of sexual assault.
  • $198 million for a new competitive grant program to help rape crisis centers transition to a virtual services model and meet the emergency needs of survivors. 
  • $2.5 million for administrative costs of the two new competitive grant programs.

Related Resources

Family Violence Prevention & Services (FVPSA) Grant Awards

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Head Start

The ARP provides $1 billion to support Head Start programs in reaching more eligible families. Head Start programs promote the school readiness of infants, toddlers, and preschool-aged children from low-income families. Head Start programs also engage parents or other key family members in positive relationships, with a focus on family wellbeing. 

The $1 billion of ARP funds for Head Start programs are intended to help prepare facilities for in-person services, support Head Start staff, and boost comprehensive services.

The ARP Funds may be used to:

  • Provide additional weeks of Head Start and Early Head Start programming through summer programs or as extensions of the program year. These services prioritize rising kindergartners, children with disabilities, children experiencing food or housing insecurity, children that were not able to receive any in-person services this year, or other areas determined by community needs.
  • Provide critical support to enrolled children and families, including meals, mental wellness support, and connection to other community resources.
  • Connect children and parents or caregivers to medical and dental services, stable housing, parenting supports, and other services.
  • Assist with transitions such as parents returning to work and connecting children and families to receiving schools.
  • Improve ventilation in existing facilities, enhance outdoor learning spaces, or renovate spaces to serve children during the pandemic.
  • Hire additional staff to support smaller group sizes.
  • Support existing Head Start staff by offering mental health services, professional learning and development, and aid to receive the COVID-19 vaccine.

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Native Languages

The ARP provides a $20 million investment in the preservation and maintenance of Native languages, including addressing infrastructure barriers that have hindered virtual Native language instruction. The COVID pandemic expedited the loss of Native elders, which threatens the continued survival of Native languages, traditions, and cultures.

  • The ARP will give access to previously under resourced tribes and address equity by reaching the full Native language universe.
  • The Administration for Native Americans is conducting listening sessions and tribal consultation, in compliance with the Presidential memorandum, to obtain feedback on how to distribute ARP funds.

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Pandemic Emergency Assistance

The ARP created a new $1 billion Pandemic Emergency Assistance Fund for grantees operating a Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program in order to provide immediate economic relief to families with the lowest incomes who are unable to meet their added expenses or debt due to the COVID pandemic. 

  • The ARP provides grantees with the flexibility to extend eligibility to a broader group of families in need and not limit eligibility to traditional TANF recipients.
  • Grantees have the option to target assistance to the specific needs of their residents to best address the unique needs of the populations in each state, territory, and tribe.

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Child Care

The ARP provides $39 billion in relief that the child care community desperately needs. The pandemic has caused widespread disruption in child care services, and it is important to deliver funds to parents and child care providers in need.

The $39 billion in relief is divided into two child care funding streams: 

  • $24 billion for Stabilization grants to child care providers that cover their operating expenses, personnel costs, child and staff mental health, facilities maintenance, and Personal Protective Equipment.
  • $15 billion for the Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG) with additional flexibilities. Of note, states do not need to allocate 70 percent of funding for direct services. Child care providers are able to use ARP funds for any purpose allowed under CCDBG AND for children of essential workers regardless of income.

The ARP also provides the following financial support for programs managed by ACF’s Office of Child Care:

  • $633 million permanent increase in total Child Care and Development Fund (CCDF) Mandatory and Matching funds; thus, increasing the funding amount from $2.9 billion to $3.55 billion per year and temporarily waiving the state matching requirement for the increase in Matching funds for Fiscal Years 2021 and 2022.
  • $4.5 million for Tribal Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting supplemental funding to address the needs of expectant parents and families with young children during the COVID-19 public health emergency.

The ARP funds for child care are intended to:

  • Support working families and offer consistent, stable, flexible, and affordable access to child care.
  • Help child care provider staff enter or stay in the labor force.
  • Promote equity for children, families, child care workers, and child care providers, including people of color and people with disabilities.
  • Provide livable wages and benefits for early childhood educators and family child care providers.

Related Resources

Explained: The American Rescue Plan

Reducing Child Poverty

The American Rescue Plan Act is a bold step forward in the fight for our children’s future.  It aims to cut child poverty (PDF) Visit disclaimer page in half and funds essential services that deliver immediate relief for workers and families, and support the hardest hit communities such as child care, Head Start, preventative child welfare interventions, family violence prevention, energy assistance, and short-term pandemic emergency assistance. 

Families will get back as much as half of their child care spending for children under age 13 via tax credit -- up to $4,000 for one child or $8,000 for two or more children. The tax credit will be refundable, so families who don’t owe a lot in taxes will still benefit. 

The ARP increases the child tax credit from $2,000  to $3,000 per child ($3,600 for a child under age 6) and makes 17-year-olds qualifying children for the year to help cover the costs associated with raising children.

Expanding child care assistance helps hard-hit child care providers cover their costs and increase tax credits to help families cover the mounting costs of child care