March 27 - Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) (H.R. 748)
On Friday, March 27, the president signed the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act), H.R. 748. This $2 trillion package includes a wide range of funding and policy measures to respond to the coronavirus outbreak, including to address the early care, education, and emergency housing needs of children, youth, and families. A summary of these provisions is provided here. Additional emergency aid bills are expected in future months.
March 18 - Families First Coronavirus Response Act (H.R. 6201)
On Wednesday, March 18, President Trump signed into law “Families First Coronavirus Response Act” (H.R. 6201). The legislation guarantees free coronavirus testing, secures paid emergency leave, enhances Unemployment Insurance, strengthens food security initiatives, and increases federal Medicaid funding to states.
- Allows the Department of Agriculture to approve state plans to provide emergency SNAP assistance to households with children who would otherwise receive free or reduced-price meals if not for their schools being closed due to the COVID-19 emergency.
- Suspends the work and work training requirements for SNAP during this crisis.
- Allows the Department of Agriculture to issue nationwide school meal waivers during the emergency, which will eliminate paperwork for states and help more schools quickly adopt and utilize flexibilities.
- Provides $500 million to provide access to nutritious foods to low-income pregnant women or mothers with young children who lose their jobs or are laid off due to the emergency.
- Provides $400 million to the Emergency Food Assistance Program to help food banks meet increased demand.
- Provides emergency paid leave for workers of 2/3 their average monthly earnings (capped at $4,000) for each month (up to 3 total months) in which they must take off 14 or more days from work because they: have COVID-19; are quarantined at the instruction of a health care provider, employer, or government official; are caring for a person with COVID-19 or quarantined; or are caring for a child or other person unable to care for themselves due to a COVID-19 related closing of their school, child care facility, or other care program. Benefits can be retroactive back to January 19, 2020. Applications will be taken online, by phone, or mail, through the Social Security Administration.
- Provides $1 billion to states to process unemployment insurance (UI) claims (and requires employers to inform laid-off workers of their potential UI eligibility) and to help pay UI in states with at least a 10% increase in unemployment. It also assures full federal funding for extended UI benefits in states with more than 10% unemployment.
- Requires all employers to provide an additional two weeks sick leave immediately, which can be used when a child’s school is closed, employer is closed, or the employee or family member is quarantined. Construction employees can receive sick pay based on the hours they worked for multiple contractors.
Another measure, still in development, would address broader economic and emergency needs, including funding and policy related to early childhood, K-12, higher education, housing, and homelessness assistance. SHC is deeply involved and advocating strongly for policies and funding to protect the health, safety, education, and well-being of children, youth, and families experiencing homelessness.
Specifically, we are requesting:
- At least $300 million for the Education for Homeless Children and Youth (EHCY), with flexible uses of funds to meet the emergent, temporary housing, education, health, safety, and transportation needs of homeless children and youth whose schools have closed
- Increased early childhood and child care support for children and families experiencing homelessness
- Aid to college students to access to food, housing, health care, and child care, as well as devices and connection to the internet
- Emergency shelter, eviction prevention, and other housing assistance
In addition, we are supporting the request of the National Network for Youth for:
- At least $128 million for the Runaway and Homeless Youth Act program. Funding should bypass the usual competitive grant process, and be distributed to existing grantees, to help them provide temporary housing and health care to youth and young adults.
- At least $22 million for the Service Connection for Youth on the Streets. Funding should bypass the usual competitive grant process, and be distributed to existing grantees based on demonstrated need related to COVID-19 outbreaks.
SchoolHouse Connection urges that all COVID-19 responses – local, state, and federal – proactively incorporate outreach to and services for homeless families and unaccompanied youth, including those who are staying in “hidden” homeless situations. These families and youth are highly mobile, extremely vulnerable, and unlikely to benefit from initiatives that are predicated on a stable and safe home environment, consistent internet access, or reliable transportation.