The Alliance has just released the new toolkit, Strategies for Mobilizing Voters: A Toolkit for Nonprofit Community-Based Organizations, through a collaboration with Nonprofit VOTE. Whether you have always dreamed of running a voter registration drive in your community or are hoping to expand your current voter engagement efforts, this toolkit is for you.

It features detailed and colorful vignettes that depict the strategies and tactics that Alliance members have used to engage their communities in voting and elections. The toolkit covers a range of topics including running registration drives and mobilizing voters, issue messaging, and volunteer training. The vignettes are complemented with resources and tools from Nonprofit VOTE, giving you clear action steps leading up to the November election and beyond.

To hear directly from the toolkit contributors themselves, join us for the webinar, 2020 Elections and COVID-19: Strategies for Engaging Voters and Mobilizing Communities, Sept. 8 at 2-3:15 p.m. CT. Through on-the-ground examples, the panel will show that voter engagement is easier than often perceived. Panelists will describe tactics and strategies they have used to engage staff and community members in the democratic process and how they are adapting those strategies for COVID-19 conditions and constraints. The webinar will also feature a representative from Alliance partner Nonprofit VOTE, who will discuss online voter registration, mail-in voting tools, and more.

Child Care Guidance and Upcoming Deadlines

The Office of Child Care recently released FAQs on the use of funds from the Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG). The FAQ covers important policy changes relating to school-age children during the public health emergency. For example, CCDBG funds historically cannot be used to cover children during normal school hours; however, the new flexible guidance allows these funds to be used during remote school days but not for educational purposes. In related news, the Administration for Children and Families announced deadlines for states and territories to submit applications for Community Services Block Grant (CSBG) funds. The first deadline, Sep. 1, is for CSBG funds that were allocated through the CARES Act. On Dec. 1, states will be required to submit two-year plans.

New GAO Report on Support for Kinship Caregivers

The Government Accountability Office released a new report on kinship caregivers. It reviewed survey data and studies to better understand the challenges faced by kinship caregivers. Many jurisdictions provide services to support these families, but program eligibility criteria or insufficient funds can limit availability or result in waiting lists. The study found that because federal programs and initiatives to provide support to kinship caregivers are optional, they are not widely used. The report offers recommends that the Administration for Children and Families should establish ongoing processes to proactively share information and best practices to support kinship navigator programs, area agencies on aging, and other programs that support kinship caregivers. 

Source: Child Welfare and Mental Health Coalition

Administration Tackles Opioid Crisis During Pandemic

On Aug. 6, the Department of Health and Human Services announced $101 million in grants to combat the opioid crisis, particularly in rural areas. The grants will go to 116 organizations in 46 states and the District of Columbia, to improve and expand prevention, treatment, and recovery services. $12.5 million will specifically support behavioral health services for individuals and families. The grants will also fund training opportunities for behavioral health professionals and provide tuition assistance for trainees.

New Federal Funding for Housing Services and Supports

The Department of Housing and Urban Development released $472 million in CARES Act funding to Public Housing Agencies (PHA) to support low-income families weathering the pandemic. The funds will be used to supplement the Housing Choice Voucher program, which helps families secure and retain housing across the country. COVID-19-related uses include: 

  • Buying cleaning and sanitation supplies
  • Relocating families for quarantine purposes
  • Offering incentives to property owners to stay in the program
  • Providing child care services to PHA staff

Congress has yet to come up with a solution to the widespread fear of an upcoming eviction epidemic after the eviction moratorium from the CARES Act expired last month.

Guidance for New Unemployment Benefits Program

The Department of Labor (DOL) released guidance on a new unemployment benefits program created through President Trump’s executive memorandum last month. The new program, called the Lost Wages Assistance program, will provide up to $400 per week from Aug 1-Dec. 27. To be eligible, individuals must prove they have been laid off due to COVID-19, and the state must certify that the individual is receiving at least $100 per week in unemployment. With support from DOL, the Federal Emergency Management Association will disburse $300 per week to recipients. The states will be required to provide a $100 match, either on top of, or inclusive of, regular state benefits.

SNAP Benefits May Face Danger of Running Out

The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) could run out of funds before the end of the fiscal year in September. Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) shared that since the Pandemic Unemployment Compensation has ended and large increases in SNAP participation are already being seen, including a 37% increase in Oregon in the first week of August alone, the current expected surplus of $2 billion may likely not be enough to support  families that utilize SNAP.

Source: American Public Human Services Association

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