How Will the American Rescue Plan Strengthen the Prenatal-to-3 System of Care? A Summary of the 2021 Act’s Benefits for Infants and Toddlers


View related 3/30/21 webinar recording and materials for a walk through of the American Rescue Plan and Q&A with Dr. Cynthia Osborne and Dr. Greg Duncan: Click here for event page.

March 2021

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The American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) of 2021 invests unprecedented amounts of funding in the prenatal-to-3 period. As a result of this investment, states will have more support and choices to effectively build a comprehensive and equitable prenatal-to-3 system of care. The new law includes a number of provisions critical to supporting individuals and families during the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond.

Signed into law on March 11, 2021, ARPA broadens states’ flexibility to effectively support children and families and build a comprehensive prenatal-to-3 system of care.  The $1.9 trillion dollar stimulus bill has major implications for the prenatal-to-3 period because it:

  • Expands eligibility for programs;
  • Increases the value and refundability of tax credits for families; and
  • Provides substantial funding increases to public programs serving families and caregivers.

How Will the American Rescue Plan Strengthen the Prenatal-to-3 System of Care? A Summary of the 2021 Act’s Benefits for Infants and Toddlers includes a discussion of provisions related to the effective policies and strategies in our annual Prenatal-to-3 State Policy Roadmap, as well as additional policies that have implications for the prenatal-to-3 period. See below for the brief table of contents.

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Table of Contents

  • Introduction
  • Impact on Evidence-Based Solutions
  • A Boost to Families’ Access to Needed Services, Such as Health Care and Nutritious Food
    • More Affordable Health Insurance for Families
    • Options to Extend Health Insurance Coverage to Postpartum Women
    • Incentives for Nonexpansion States to Expand Health Insurance Eligibility
    • Additional Funding for Pediatric Mental Health Care Access
    • Greater Value for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC)
  • Enhancements to Parents’ Ability to Work Through Historic Supports to Child Care
    • A Historic Investment in Child Care Subsidies
  • A Boost to Household Resources That Will Significantly Reduce Child Poverty
    • An Expanded, Fully Refundable Child Tax Credit
    • A More Generous Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit
    • An Expanded Earned Income Tax Credit for Low-Income Workers
    • Additional Support for Housing Programs
    • A Third Round of Economic Stimulus Payments
    • Support for the Unemployment System
  • Extensions of Paid Leave Programs Benefiting Parental Health and Emotional Wellbeing
    • Reinforcing Tax Credits for Paid Sick and Family Leave
  • Support for Building Nurturing and Responsive Child-Parent Relationships Through Greater Home Visiting Funding
    • Additional Funding for Home Visiting
  • Critical Support and Stabilization of Child Care
    • Additional Investment to Support Early Head Start
    • Funding to Stabilize the Child Care Industry
  • Support for Programs that Promote Optimal Child Health and Development
    • Additional Funding for Early Intervention
    • More Support for the National Child Traumatic Stress Network
    • Generous Support for Child Abuse Prevention
  • Conclusion
  • References

Recommended Citation
Prenatal-to-3 Policy Impact Center. (2021). How Will the American Rescue Plan Act Strengthen the Prenatal-to-3 System of Care? A Summary of the 2021 Act’s Benefits for Infants and Toddlers. Child and Family Research Partnership, Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs, University of Texas at Austin. B.005.0321.

© March 2021, Prenatal-to-3 Policy Impact Center, All Rights Reserved. The Prenatal-to-3 Policy Impact Center at The University of Texas at Austin LBJ School of Public Affairs translates research on the best public investments into state policy actions that produce results for young children and society.


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