The American Rescue Plan, a landmark piece of legislation, made a number of important investments aimed at helping Americans recover from the fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic. Among these investments are the American Rescue Plan’s State Fiscal Recovery Fund and Local Fiscal Recovery Fund. A Better Balance’s new memo explains the State Fiscal Recovery Fund and the Local Fiscal Recovery Fund program parameters and identifies key policies these funds could be used for to support working families. We urge states and localities to take this opportunity to create, strengthen, and enforce paid sick leave and paid family and medical leave programs—programs like these have been vital to working families during the pandemic, and will continue to be crucial sources of support as the pandemic continues and as the economy begins to recover.
The pandemic has caused crises in many areas, including, but by no means limited to, housing, unemployment, health care access, and safety, all of which must be addressed.
At the same time, the ongoing crisis of care that the pandemic revealed and exacerbated has loomed large during the pandemic and will continue to define the recovery. As states and localities begin to develop plans for these funds and begin to focus on ensuring an equitable recovery, investment in working families is urgently necessary.
Workers—especially low-income women of color, who have borne the brunt of both the job loss and the caregiving needs exacerbated by the current crisis—need access to paid sick leave and paid family and medical leave and strong enforcement of workplace protections to enable them to balance the competing demands of work and care.
The American Rescue Plan has created an unprecedented opportunity to support working families; state and local governments should seize it.