On Friday, the Small Business Administration (SBA) released its loan forgiveness application for the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). However, we are still waiting for additional guidance, so this is only half of the loan forgiveness puzzle. Additional guidance expected later this week. 

Last week, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and fellow Democrats in the House of Representatives released their proposal for the next stimulus bill. The bill, known as the HEROES Act, is only the first step in the negotiation process around the next COVID-19 stimulus bill. It has not yet been negotiated with the Senate, with Republican leadership, or with the administration. We anticipate several weeks of negotiations ahead, with each entity having different and sometimes opposing priorities.

There is no guarantee that anything in this proposal will make it into the next stimulus bill. That said, it is important to understand what is in the HEROES Act because it will lay the groundwork for negotiations with the House. The House of Representatives passed the measure on Friday, with a final vote of 208-199 (mostly party line vote, with 14 Democrats voting against and one Republican voting for). Next, we anticipate negotiations will commence with Senate and administration leaders.

The HEROES Act focuses on a couple of key areas: Financial relief for states and local government, financial relief for individuals and families, increased testing and health care access, and a new Pandemic Premium Pay (also known as hazard pay or essential worker pay). 

The Alliance for Strong Families and Communities, in partnership with our network, has been advocating heavily for nonprofit financial relief and critical funds for our communities to fill gaps that were not covered by the CARES Act. After our strategic action network sent almost 5,500 letters to elected officials, we are thrilled that many of the priorities we have advocated for have been included in this first step.

Read our full summary and highlights:

  • Lifts the employee cap on the SBA Paycheck Protection Program and sets aside funds for nonprofits
  • Sets up the Main Street Loan Program to serve nonprofits 
  • Establishes a new Pandemic Premium Pay Program (hazard pay) 

Download the Alliance's comprehensive summary of key provisions for human service organizations. We are still analyzing legislation and will plan to update this with more detail and new interpretations over the coming days. For a more detailed summary, read the House of Representatives' section-by-section document.

New Program Instruction on Title IV-E Flexibility on Extended Foster Care & QRTPs

The Children’s Bureau recently published new program instruction that provides more flexibility in Title IV-E program requirements. Agencies may request a simplified process for extending foster care to 19, 20, or 21. They could also suspend work and education requirements for extended foster care. It also allows unaccredited residential treatment centers to bill as QRTPs, provided they meet all other statutory requirements, if they are unable to meet accreditation standards during the pandemic (the accreditation process must resume after the disaster designation is lifted). Also, agencies can claim Title IV-E reimbursement for professionally licensed families if the pandemic precludes completion of the licensing process.

New Guidance for Paycheck Protection Program

Last week, the Small Business Administration (SBA) released two new pieces of guidance for the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). The first, released on Wednesday, addressed many Alliance members’ concerns about whether they had fulfilled the so-called “good-faith certification” for needing the loan. In response to question 46, the guidance states: “Any borrower that, together with its affiliates, received PPP loans with an original principal amount of less than $2 million will be deemed to have made the required certification concerning the necessity of the loan.” Therefore, the SBA considers borrowers with loans of less than $2 million as having accessed the loan in good faith. The second piece of guidance, written on Thursday, extends the deadline for returning PPP loans from May 14 to May 18, allowing more time for businesses and nonprofits to consider their financial circumstances before deciding.

On Friday, SBA released its loan forgiveness application for the PPP. However, we are still waiting for additional guidance, so this is only half of the loan forgiveness puzzle. Additional guidance expected later this week. A good analysis of the application instructions is available on the Armanio blog

Relaunching America’s Workforce Act

On May 1, the House Committee on Education and Labor Chairman Robert C. Scott (D-Va.) and Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Ranking Member Patty Murray (D-Wash.) introduced the Relaunching America’s Workforce Act. This bill would inject $15 billion into workforce training to ensure that Americans are ready to return to work once the economy reopens:

  • $10 billion would go toward state and local workforce agencies for workforce training and other employment services
  • $1 billion would fund expanding the number and capacity of adult education providers
  • $1 billion would support career and technical training for workers seeking high-skill jobs in competitive industries
  • $2 billion would go toward reviving the community college career training grant program, which helped connect employers and individuals during the Great Recession

The Emergency Funding for Child Protection Act

On May 6, Sens. Bob Casey (D-Penn.) and Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) introduced the Emergency Funding for Child Protection Act, which would provide additional funding for child abuse prevention services during the COVID-19 crisis by increasing funding for the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act by $1.5 billion.

The bill would provide emergency CAPTA grants to states and community-based organizations for child protection and child abuse prevention activities. In addition, the bill allows some flexibility under CAPTA to use funds for activities such as home visitation, telehealth, personal protective equipment, emergency supplies, new technology, and the national child abuse hotline. This legislation is the Senate companion bill for similar legislation asking for $1.5 billion in extra funds in the House of Representatives, introduced by Rep. Kim Schrier, (D-Wash.). On Friday, the House of Representatives passed the HEROES Act, which would provide $40 million to CAPTA. The HEROES Act currently does not have support in the Senate and negotiations will continue on funding issues, such as CAPTA, in future stimulus legislation.

“At a time where a child may be trapped at home with their abuser and social services are strapped, investing in child abuse prevention is critical to ensure the safety of our children in Oregon and across the nation,” Wyden said. 

Runaway and Homeless Youth (RHY) Program Guidance

The Administration for Children and Families released a new FAQ for Runaway and Homeless Youth Program grantees. Given the unique circumstances of the COVID-19 crisis, the guidance signals new flexibilities in the implementation of the program and addresses pressing issues that grantees have raised in recent months. The guidance covers how long youth can stay in the Transitional Living, Maternity Group Homes, and Basic Center Programs. It also speaks to the issue of shelter occupancy limits and protocols for protecting individuals and staff from COVID-19. 

Emergency Food Supplies Being Released 

On May 4, U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Sonny Perdue announced that during the third of quarter of 2020, the department will purchase $470 million of surplus food for distribution to communities in need. While demand for dining and restaurants has dwindled as part of the closed COVID-19 economy, demand at food banks has soared due to high unemployment rates. By buying up the surplus goods and redirecting them toward food banks, USDA is supporting farmers and families in crisis. In addition to purchasing surplus goods, USDA will spend $3 billion on the Farmers to Families Food Box Program and $870 million on The Emergency Food Assistance Program. Both programs were allocated these additional funds through the Family First Coronavirus Response Act and the Coronavirus Aid Relief and Economic Security Act.

Adoption and Foster Care Analysis and Reporting System Final Rule Published

The Children’s Bureau recently published a final rule that revises required data elements for the Adoption and Foster Care Analysis and Reporting System (AFCARS). Unfortunately, the final rule removes key data elements that were added to reporting requirements in 2016. The rule modifies 13 data items and eliminates nearly 90 data items from the 2016 Final Rule including sexual orientation and gender identity of foster youth and foster parents as well as adoptive parents and guardians, implementation of the Indian Child Welfare Act, educational stability, juvenile justice involvement, and many others. The Alliance advocated heavily against this rule last June. Many people in the child welfare community advocated on the importance and need for comprehensive data collection.

Source: Children’s Defense Fund

Prevention Services Clearinghouse for Family First Update

The Prevention Services Clearinghouse announced several additions to the working list of the next programs and services planned for systematic review. The following programs and services have been added to this list:

  • Adolescent Community Reinforcement Approach
  • Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing
  • Family Centered Treatment
  • Family Check-up
  • Family Spirit
  • Interpersonal Psychotherapy for Depressed Adolescents
  • Iowa Parent Partner Approach
  • Prolonged Exposure Therapy
  • SafeCare (Re-Review)
  • SafeCare Augmented
  • Sobriety Treatment And Recovery Teams (START)
  • The Matrix Model
  • Trust-Based Relational Intervention
  • Youth Villages Intercept

Review the full working list of the next programs and services planned for systematic review.

New Poll Results on COVID-19 Impact on Older Youth

FosterClub has released the second in a series of polls of young people from foster care, revealing troubling insights about how the COVID-19 crisis continues to negatively affect these youth. The poll captured the experiences of 613 respondents, ages 18-24, from 44 states.

According to the poll:

  • Nearly one in five reported they have run out of food
  • 51% said they are having challenges with food security
  • 23% reported that they are being forced to move or fear being forced to leave their current living situation
  • 65% said they had lost work, hours or been laid off because of the pandemic
  • 37.4% indicated they didn’t know how to apply for unemployment or couldn’t get the information they needed
  • 50% of those who lost work because of COVID-19 who had filed for unemployment benefits did not receive benefits
  • 52% said they received the stimulus check; 40% weren’t even sure if they were eligible
  • One in five indicated they are on their own or almost entirely alone
  • Only 37% said they can rely on family (legal or chosen) during this crisis

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