COVID-19 Federal Relief: Third Bill Passed Providing $2 Trillion

On March 27, President Trump signed a $2 trillion economic relief bill called the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act into law after it was approved with bipartisan support by the House of Representatives and Senate. This is the latest of three phases of economic relief packages provided by the federal government in response to the coronavirus outbreak in the United States.

  • Phase III: Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act (signed 3/27)
  • Phase II: Families First Coronavirus Response Act (signed 3/19)
  • Phase I: Coronavirus Preparedness & Response Supplemental Appropriations Act (signed 3/16)

To learn more about Phase I and II, see our recent blog post here.

The CARES Act provides $2 trillion in funding to support several areas impacted by COVID-19 (see for an official summary and the full Bill).  Some key areas are highlighted below:

  • Direct payment to individuals including cash payments to eligible middle to low-income Americans ($1,200 per adult and $500 per child younger than 17), and expanded unemployment insurance payments (e.g., extending the period of payment from three to four months and including part-time and self-employed individuals)
  • Supports and requirements for big businesses such as funding for airlines, reporting and repayment requirements
  • Supports for small businesses such as emergency grants and forgivable bridge loans
  • Direct economic stimulus funding to states, local and tribal governments to use for expenditures incurred due to COVID-19, allocated by population proportions. This funding can be used in many ways by NC state and local governments including child care and K-12 education.
  • Public health such as additional funding for prevention, diagnosis and treatment of COVID-19 including telehealth, supplies, etc.
  • Education such as temporarily suspension of federal student loan repayment
  • Safety net services such as SNAP benefits and food banks

The following graphic breaking down the CARES Act funding was shared by the Alliance for Early Success on a call with early childhood stakeholders from across the country on March 27, just hours after the Bill was approved by the House.


In addition to providing cash payments to families and supporting small businesses, such as child care centers, the CARES Act will support early childhood in other ways.

A total of $6.3 billion will go to the Administration of Children and Families, including:

  • $3.5 billion to states via Child Care and Development Block Grants (CCDBG) to provide immediate assistance to child care providers. This money is intended to help prevent child care centers from going out of business and to provide child care for families, especially those with adults who are providing essential services. CLASP estimates that North Carolina would receive about $114 million of this.
  • $750 million for grants to all Head Start programs to respond to COVID-19-related needs
  • $45 million for grants to support child welfare services including family violence prevention
  • $1 billion to help local community-based organizations providing various social services and emergency assistance for those with the highest need through Community Services Block Grants
  • $900 million to help families with managing home-related costs such as energy bills

$30.75 billion will go towards an Education Stabilization Fund for states, school districts and institutions of higher education for costs related to the coronavirus.

  • $13.5 billion is available for formula grants to states to support elementary and secondary education. Funds will be allocated based on the same proportion that each state receives under ESEA Title-IA. Ninety percent of the funds will be distributed to local educational agencies (LEAs) based on their proportional allocation of ESEA Title I-A funds for coronavirus-response activities, such as planning for long-term school closures and purchasing technology to support online learning.
  • Each state will receive a share of $3 billion for governors to allocate at their discretion for emergency support grants to LEAs and institutions of higher education that have been most significantly impacted by COVID-19 using a specified funding formula.

For additional information, see COVID-19 Stimulus Bill: What It Means for States by the National Conference for State Legislatures.

National advocates have called for additional measures in future legislation aimed at supporting young children and the most vulnerable families, including:

  • Expanding health coverage or covering COVID-19 treatment for those who are uninsured
  • Increasing SNAP benefits
  • Flexible funding for states to help very poor families with children, such as the TANF (Temporary Assistance for Needy Families) Emergency Fund that Congress provided in 2009-2010