Connecting state and local government leaders
New research looks at how local governments are using the money to address the fallout the pandemic has had for children in areas like education and mental health.
As the Covid-19 pandemic has taken a toll on children’s mental health and education, local officials have allocated more than $2 billion in American Rescue Plan Act funds to address these harmful effects, according to a recent report from the National League of Cities.
The average city put $12.8 million in the direct aid they received from the law’s State and Local Fiscal Recovery Fund toward youth recovery initiatives, with most municipalities spending between $1.1 million and $12 million. Of 80 cities sampled for the report, New York City is spending the most in this area—$553 million.
Overall, a significant share of funds went to afterschool and summer learning programs, with most cities spending between $1 million and $7.7 million on such initiatives.
Of the cities included in the NLC study, nearly three quarters used ARPA funds to expand afterschool and summer learning programs, for a cumulative investment of $1.1 billion—almost three times as much as the next largest spending categories: workforce (about $405.6 million) and parks and recreation infrastructure (about $346.9 million).
According to a recent report from the Brookings Institution, students’ test scores in grades three through eight dropped significantly last fall, especially in math. The drop in math test scores was worse during the pandemic compared to other disruptive events, the report said. For example, the average math test scores among students who evacuated from New Orleans during Hurricane Katrina dropped by less.
On average, cities allocated 12.7% of their total State and Local Fiscal Recovery funds toward initiatives to support young people, including youth employment programs, schools, youth services and reengagement, according to NLC.
More information about using ARPA funds to support young people can be found at engageeverystudent.org, an online resource that the U.S. Department of Education launched in July.
Molly Bolan is the assistant editor for Route Fifty.