Submitted by San Juan County.
San Juan County Council is announcing $3.4 million in American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) investments to support pandemic recovery efforts in public health, infrastructure updates, and emergency preparedness. Since receiving the first allocation of ARPA funds in May of 2021, the County has invested in childcare and rental assistance, increased access to public meetings, and updated the health department. Supporting working families, public health, and equity of access is crucial to San Juan County’s recovery.
San Juan County allocated $300,000 to childcare assistance programs across the county. The County Council, thanks to survey data from the Joyce L. Sobel Family Resource Center (JLSFRC), identified local childcare centers as essential services that have been negatively impacted by COVID-19. Childcare advocates across the county named the “challenge of finding and retaining qualified staff to care for children” as the largest impact of the COVID-19 public health emergency, citing a 60% reduction in after school care on Orcas, a 45% reduction on San Juan, and the complete lack of after-school care on Lopez.
“This funding will go a long way to respond to concerns we’ve heard from local parents and small business owners,” said Councilwoman Christine Minney. (District 1). “Direct assistance to these critical programs is an important investment to fortify small businesses and support growing families.”
San Juan County allocated $60,000 to rental assistance programs through the three Family Resource Centers. Each center received $20,000 to provide rental assistance for community members who do not quality for other available programs.
San Juan County Department of Health and Human Services received $500,000 to support its on-going programming and outreach around COVID-19.
“I’m pleased that the County is being prudent and reserving funds for our continued COVID relief efforts,” said Health and Human Services Director Mark Tompkins. “This preparation speaks to the Council’s foresight and support of our programs.”
An additional $85,000 was allocated to the Department of Health and Human Services for a remodel of the front office. The newly renovated space is configured to maintain physical distancing and protect the safety of staff and patients.
Council allocated $137,000 for upgrades to audio and video systems throughout the County to improve equity of access to meetings and resources. These investments allow for better connectivity to public meetings, advisory boards activities, court happening, etc. which help foster community engagement.
At its May 3rd meeting, San Juan County Council approved ARPA funding for improvements to the Fish Bay Sewer District, emergency culvert repairs and replacements, building rehabilitations, and assistance to the Economic Development Council.