On March 11, 2021, the U.S. Congress passed the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA), which allocated $350 billion to help state, local, territorial and tribal governments respond to to the public health and economic impacts of the pandemic, with special attention on addressing disproportionate impacts to marginalized populations. Washington County has received $117 million that must be obligated by the end of 2024 and fully spent by the end of 2026.
Values and principles
In September of 2021, the Washington County Board of Commissioners committed to pursuing these values and principles in Washington County's use of American Rescue Plan funds:
- Equity. By leading with racial equity, we can mitigate historical impacts, change persistent systemic issues, and achieve a more inclusive future.
- Resilience. We will foster strong organizations, individuals, and systems that focus on long-term solutions.
- Collaboration. We achieve better outcomes when we work together.
- Good governance. We are responsible stewards of public trust and resources.
- Center Racial Equity. Recognizing that systemic inequities are exacerbated by the pandemic, we will center racial equity by prioritizing investments and strategies tailored to historically and currently marginalized communities.
- Invest in Public Health 1st. Addressing the pandemic will foster economic recovery. We will invest in public health first.
- Leverage Multiple Resources. These are one-time funds. To transform systems that create community need, we will seek solutions that leverage multiple resources to amplify total impact.
- Be Innovative. Proactive. Strategic. To achieve long-term outcomes, we will be innovative, proactive, and strategic. We will also balance those strategies with the need to react to immediate needs and issues.
- Seek Collaborative Solutions. We work with and sustain partners—public, private, and community—to seek collaborative solutions. We recognize that community-based organizations play a special and integral role to our service delivery system.
- Work with Transparency. We will conduct our work openly, with transparency, and by following a clear process that is accountable, data-driven, and builds on community wisdom.
Washington County’s Pandemic Response and Recovery Strategy:
In developing the ARPA framework Washington County built on relationships with over 120 community-based organizations and an established COVID-19 Racial Equity Workgroup (CREW) of leaders from community-based organizations. The strategy, goals and plan for the first phase reflect a careful balance of response and recovery effort. During the first phase the approach to investments comprised of 5 main areas:
The Washington County Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), Public Health Division continues to protect the health of our communities, save lives and address community needs through COVID-19 response and recovery projects.
In addition to directly protecting public health against the threat of COVID-19, Washington County is investing in projects and programs aimed to holistically stabilize and recover our community.
Washington County’s Economic Development Program is charged with creating economic development plans, programs, and services to promote economic prosperity and an equitable economic recovery from the negative impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.
In developing the ARPA SLFRF framework and its early implementation, the Board aims to build an equity-centered community engagement model, the data systems and tools needed to track community outcomes in ARPA programs and beyond and for improving existing communications structures by broadening accessibility.
This investment allows Washington County's workforce to remain nimble, flexible, healthy, and serve the community through multiple surges of the COVID-19 pandemic. We ensured complex and diverse operations continued throughout the pandemic without gaps in services – a mighty effort in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic.
To ensure public transparency in ARPA investment, Washington County has developed a public data dashboard built upon US Treasury Reports to showcase the county’s pandemic response efforts and recovery outcomes.
ARPA in Action Videos
Watch these community resilience stories that highlight the importance of cross collaboration for investing federal funding into community.
American Rescue Plan Act information and resources
- U.S. Treasury
- League of Cities
- National Association of Counties
- Office of the Governor
- Results for America
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