By Robbie Owens

ARLINGTON, Texas (CBSDFW.COM) – Calling safe, affordable childcare critical to the economic recovery, the federal government is sending billions of dollars to Texas to support families and the childcare centers that allow parents to work.

“Without childcare, the economy is not going to recover, because without people being able to get back to work, the economy won’t be able to get back on its feet,” says Lynne Groff, “that’s how essential childcare really is.”

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Groff owns Primrose School of N.E. Green Oaks in Arlington.

She says her center has remained open during the pandemic, but at the onset could only serve the children of essential workers. That meant enrollment dropped while expenses skyrocketed.

“The cost of basic things like toilet paper and paper towels and even bleach, the cost of everything just went up!” says Groff. “One of the things that people need to remember is that most childcares are operated by small business owners, and we all know the impact that the pandemic has had on small businesses nationwide.”

And the Biden-Harris administration agrees.

“So today we’re announcing the single largest investment in childcare in our nation’s history,” said Vice President Kamala Harris at an afternoon briefing. “This investment is part of the American Rescue Plan, which the President signed into law over a month ago.”

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Some $4.4 billion in childcare support is headed to Texas.

The state will administer the program, with childcare centers expected to be the primary beneficiaries.

“This is going to help childcare providers who had to shut down, open back up…who had to shut down, be able to put people back on the payroll that they had to lay off and pay bills,” says Karine Jean-Pierre, White House Principal Deputy Press Secretary, “also funding to help with mental health for both child and providers.”

Certain families can also expect help with childcare expenses, says Jean-Pierre.

“Within the American Rescue Plan, there is funding there for parents and for families to help pay for their childcare services.”

Families who perform essential work or who earn at or below 85% of the state’s median income –approximately $52,593 in Texas for a family of four– can also apply for assistance with childcare expenses.

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“This money is so necessary,” says Groff.