What Does the New Federal Coronavirus Relief Bill Mean for Early Childhood?

At the end of the 2020, Congress passed and the President signed into law a bill that includes approximately $900 billion for COVID-19 relief funding. EducationCounsel, a national partner, has drafted a top-line summary of key education-related and child care provisions included in the bill (5 pages) and a more detailed overview of the provisions of the funding specifically for child care (2 pages)

And in case you don’t want to dig into the details, here’s a high-level overview, comparing the new dollar amounts with the amounts provided in the 2020 CARES Act:

Child Care and Head Start:

  • $10 billion in emergency funds for child care providers through the Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG) program (vs $3.5 billion included in the 2020 CARES Act) can be used to provide child care assistance to families and to help child care providers cover their increased operating costs during the pandemic.
  • $250 million for Head Start providers (vs. $750 million included in the CARES Act) to ensure they are able to continue to safely serve low-income children and families throughout the pandemic.

CLASP has estimated that NC will receive about $339 million of the $10 billion in CCDBG funding and suggested some steps states could take right away to start putting the funds to good use.

K-12 Education:

  • Governors Emergency Education Relief Fund: $4.05 billion (vs. $3 billion included in the 2020 CARES Act)
  • Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund (Public K-12 schools): $54.3 billion (vs. $13.5 billion included in the 2020 CARES Act)
  • Similar to the 2020 CARES Act, these funds are flexible and can be used for a variety of purposes, including to provide educational services to students and to support the ongoing functionality of school districts
  • There are additional dollars for higher education
  • The Education Stabilization Fund also requires states to maintain financial support through fiscal year 2022 for K-12 schools and for institutions of education equal to the average of the 2017, 2018, and 2019 fiscal years. However, the bill also includes an authority for the U.S. Department of Education (USED) Secretary to waive this provision if a state has experienced a precipitous decline in financial resources.

Advocates are concerned that, while the K-12 education relief is an important second step, it will not be sufficient to cover declined state budgets in 2021, the increased costs of education during the pandemic, and the costs of remediating lost learning during this time.

Unemployment Insurance:

  • $120 billion for an additional $300 per week to supplement state and federal unemployment benefits through March 14, 2021.
  • Provides additional weeks of federally-funded benefits to workers who have exhausted their regular state unemployment benefits.

This recent N&O article highlights concerns with the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program, including that many North Carolinians have been found ineligible.

Other allocations in the bill that can support young children and families:

  • $166 billion for direct payments to individuals and families, including expansion of payments to mixed-status households and providing payments retroactively to the CARES Act for certain immigrant families.
  • $325 billion for small business support, including $284 billion for the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), which is extended through March 31, 2021.
  • $25 billion for Emergency Rental Assistance and includes an extension of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) rental eviction moratorium until Jan. 31, 2021.
  • $7 billion for broadband, including $3.2 billion for an Emergency Broadband Connectivity Fund to support low-income families to gain access to high-speed internet.
  • Temporarily increases Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) monthly benefits by 15%.

NCECF will keep you updated on how NC allocates our portion of the relief funds. Read here about the early childhood components of the three COVID-19 relief bills passed in 2020, and check out all of NCECF’s COVID-19 blog posts and early childhood-related COVID-19 updates from the Governor’s Office, NC DHHS and NC DPI here.