Things are starting to pick up in Washington, D.C., as we expect negotiations on the next COVID-19 bill to begin soon. Republican Senate leaders have stated that they would like to get a bill done before the monthlong August Congressional recess. The HEROES Act, which passed about six weeks ago in the House of Representatives, would serve as the House Democrats’ proposal. All eyes move to the Senate to pass something. There are several important debates that will be critical in negotiations. First, the White House last week said that they would not be interested in signing a bill that exceeds a price tag of $1 trillion. The House passed HEROES Act was over $3 trillion. There will be a contentious debate over extending federal unemployment subsidies, which are set to expire July 30. There will also be debates around another round of stimulus checks, another round of paycheck protection program funding, and direct assistance to states and local governments who are facing massive budget shortfalls. The Alliance continues to actively advocate for key policy changes needed to support community-based nonprofit organizations during the pandemic. 

Join the Alliance for two exciting policy events this week:

Virtual Town Hall for Alliance Members to Feature Jerry Milner
July 14 from 1-2 p.m. CT
Reserved for Alliance members only

This virtual town hall meeting, held for members of the Alliance network, will discuss the future of child welfare with special guest Jerry Milner, associate commissioner of the Children’s Bureau within the Administration for Children and Families at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Milner will provide an update on the Children’s Bureau’s plans and actions in child welfare practice and policy and implementation of the Family First Prevention Services Act. Then we will discuss our shared desire to build a more equitable child welfare system and strategies for increasing the social and economic mobility of youth who are transitioning from foster care to adulthood.

Virtual Congressional Briefing Next Friday on COVID-19 and Health Disparities
July 17 from 11 a.m.-Noon CT
Join the Alliance and Research2Policy to watch a virtual briefing to Congress on COVID-19 and disparities in Black, Indigenous, and rural communities. Margaret Holland McDuff, CEO of Alliance member Family Service of Rhode Island, is one of the speakers. Join by following the livestream of the event on the National Prevention Science Coalition’s Facebook page.

 

#Relief4Charities Week of Action

Today, a coalition of more than 30 national nonprofit organizations have launched the #Relief4Charities Week of Action to push Congress to support the nonprofit sector in upcoming stimulus legislation. The Alliance for Strong Families and Communities is helping to lead the effort, along with coalition partners in Leadership 18, which is comprised of influential national nonprofits. The #Relief4Charities Week of Action will attempt to make it clear that, now more than ever, our country needs the nonprofit sector—the third largest workforce in the nation, which employs 12.3 million workers and constitutes 10% of the private workforce. 

In early April, 450 national nonprofits signed a letter that pressured Congress and the White House to pass legislation that would meet the needs of the sector. The resulting CARES Act greatly benefited the sector, with programs like the Paycheck Protection Program and other funding for low-income families. Each dollar received went directly to supporting families and communities in need. However, there are still many hurdles that nonprofits must overcome to continue providing vital services. Now, thousands of nonprofits, at the national and local levels, have signed onto a similar letter demanding action. The main asks are as follows:

  • Emergency Funding Programs including improvements to the Paycheck Protection Program, creation of a nonprofit jobs expansion program, and funding for community support grants programs
  • Low-Cost Loans for Midsize and Larger Nonprofits, which have been left out of previous government funding programs
  • Universal Charitable Deduction, which encourages all taxpayers, not just itemizers, to give via an above-the-line deduction equal to one-third of the standard deduction
  • Full Unemployment Reimbursement Benefits paid to laid off or furloughed employees of self-insured or reimbursing nonprofit employers

Each day this week, members of Congress and their staff will receive briefings from policy experts detailing the efficacy of these provisions. In addition, coalition partners intend to generate thousands of letters that will flood lawmakers’ inboxes over the course of the week. Join the Week of Action by sending a letter to your representative and senators and amplify the messages on Twitter and Facebook.

Time is of the essence, since lawmakers are expected to pass legislation before they leave Washington, D.C., for August recess.

New Child Welfare COVID-19 Bill Introduced

On Thursday, July 2, Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) introduced the Child Welfare Emergency Assistance Act. The bill, co-sponsored by Sens. Kamala D. Harris (D-Calif.), Bob Casey (D-Penn.), and Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.), will provide a significant investment into the health, safety, and well-being of children, youth, and families involved with the child welfare system. Many of the provisions in this bill reflect the recommendations elevated by the child welfare community in the April 10 sign-on letter to House and Senate leadership on the emergency support needed for vulnerable children and families in or at risk of entering the child welfare system because of COVID-19. Specifically, the bill will:

  • Invest $2 billion in Title IV-B to support state and tribal child welfare agencies in providing families, kinship caregivers, and young people with a broad range of support services to stabilize families. Child welfare agencies could also use this funding to expand adoption promotion and support services or to hire, train, and support caseworkers to conduct safe in-person home and remote visits including by purchasing personal protective equipment and technology. 
  • Provide $500 million for the John H. Chafee Foster Care Program for Successful Transition to Adulthood to ensure young people have access to supports, such as housing, food, and cash assistance and allow more of these funds to cover housing costs for foster youth. Funds could also be used for education and training vouchers, which help young people cover the cost of education. 
  • Establish a moratorium on “aging out” of foster care to ensure no young person is cut off from critical housing and support services during the public health emergency.  
  • Provide $30 million for kinship navigator programs to ensure kinship caregivers have access to information and resources, including food, safety supplies, technology, and COVID-19 testing. 
  • Increase the federal reimbursement rate for the Title IV-E Prevention Program to 100% through fiscal year 2021 to ease the financial burdens of implementation and help support prevention efforts during the public health emergency. 
  • Provide $30 million for the Court Improvement Program in fiscal year 2020 and provide $60 million for the Court Improvement Program in fiscal years 2022-2028 to ensure dependency courts have resources to facilitate the transition to remote hearings, train judges, volunteers, and court personnel on the use of technology, and support innovative programs to help families continue to address case plan requirements.
  • Expedite eligibility for children living with a relative in foster care for federal support and allow 100% federal support for kinship caregiver payments through the Title IV-E Guardianship Assistance Program and kinship-related Title IV-E adoption assistance payments. 
  • Dedicate $50 million to help states implement health oversight and coordination plans to ensure children in foster care are up-to-date on vaccinations and have access to needed care and telehealth services. 
  • Provide $15 million to states and tribes for training on trauma-informed de-escalation strategies for child welfare partners, congregate care facilities, and families. 
  • Require states to develop and implement de-escalation strategies to limit unnecessary involvement with law enforcement and ensure any contact with law enforcement is non-coercive. 

Read the press release, one-page summary of the bill, and full text of the bill online.

Source: Child Welfare and Mental Health Coalition

House Subcommittee on Labor-HHS-Edu Markup

On Tuesday, the House of Representatives Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education released its recommendations for spending levels for fiscal year 2021. This is a very early step in the appropriations process. The full House Appropriations Committee will vote on the recommended spending levels next, followed by a series of negotiations with the Senate Appropriations Committee.

Chaired by Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.), the subcommittee voted on $196.5 billion in overall funding, an increase of $2.4 billion over fiscal year 2021 and $20.8 billion above the president’s fiscal year 2021 budget request.

Here are the recommended funding levels for some (not all) major programs:

  • $2.9 billion for Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act State Grants, an increase of $50 million above the fiscal year 2020 enacted level and the president’s budget request
  • $6 billion for Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), an increase of $96 million above fiscal year 2020 and $238 million more the president’s budget request; these funds will support mental health resources for youth, suicide prevention, and substance use treatment and prevention
  • Early childhood programs in the Administration for Children and Families receive an increase of $275 million above fiscal year 2020, including:
    • $5.9 billion for the Child Care and Development Block Grant, an increase of $100 million
    • $10.8 billion for Head Start, an increase of $150 million
    • $300 million for Preschool Development Grants, an increase of $25 million
  • $193 million for Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act programs, an increase of $12.5 million above fiscal year 2020.
  • $16.6 billion for Title I Grants to Local Educational Agencies, an increase of $254 million above fiscal year 2020; the president’s budget proposes to eliminate this program
  • $172 million for a social-emotional learning (SEL) initiative to support SEL and “whole child” approaches to education

New Data and Updates on the Paycheck Protection Program

On July 6, the Small Business Administration released detailed data through June 30 on the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). The data reveals that, despite criticism of its accessibility, transparency, and complexity, the PPP had a major impact on supporting small businesses and nonprofits through the early months of the pandemic. In total, 5,461 lenders distributed 4.8 million loans, worth almost $521.5 billion. These loans supported over 51 million jobs—84% of all small business employees, according to data from the US Census Bureau. The average loan size was approximately $107,000, and 86.5% of all loans were less than $150,000 in funds, bolstering the notion that loan recipients were overwhelmingly small. 45,275 organizations that fall under NAICS codes “Civic and Social Organizations” and “Other Nonprofits” received $6.2 billion in loans, supporting over 626,000 jobs. 82.4% of all lenders have less than $1 billion in assets, including 424 minority deposit institutions and community development financial institutions.

The names of organizations that received loans of more than $150,000 are now accessible to the general public including to donors and funders.

On July 1, one day after the PPP application deadline expired, lawmakers voted to extend the deadline to Aug. 8. On Monday, the PPP started receiving new applications for the $131 billion remaining in the program’s coffers.

Reimagine Workforce Preparation Grant Program

The Department of Education announced $127.5 million in new funds for the Reimagine Workforce Preparation Grant Program. These funds were allocated through the CARES Act, which passed in late March. State workforce boards can apply for the grant program, as long as their proposed programs fall into one of the following two categories:

  • Short-term education and training programs geared toward preparing unemployed individuals for competitive careers in their communities
  • Small business incubator programs that partner with college and universities to support entrepreneurism and business development

View more public policy news  and sign up for the weekly Alliance Policy Radar online.

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