This week, the U.S. Congress passed, and President Biden signed into law, the American Rescue Plan, which aims to deliver continued aid to the American people as the COVID-19 pandemic begins to subside. The legislation provides a total of approximately $1.9 trillion divided among numerous priorities and is considered to be among the most progressive pieces of legislation in a generation.
Here are some of the ways the American Rescue Plan will impact children and families:
- Previously the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act (CRRSA), passed in December 2020, provided an additional $300 per week in unemployment benefits. This provision is set to expire in mid-March 2021.
- The American Rescue Plan extends the extra $300 per week to September 6, 2021 and provides a tax break on up to $10,000 in unemployment benefits for households with incomes under $150,000.
- Previously the CRRSA provided $600 stimulus checks to eligible Americans. The American Rescue Plan provides $1,400 stimulus checks.
- Individuals earning up to $75,000 per year and couples earning up to $150,000 per year are eligible to receive the full payment. The stimulus checks are not available to those earning $80,000 per year or more and for couples earning $160,000 per year or more.
- Citizen children with a non-citizen parent are eligible for the payment.
Child Tax Credit
- An increase to the Child Tax Credit is a new addition not previously seen in prior COVID-19 federal aid packages. It is estimated that the child tax credit program included in the American Rescue Plan will cut child poverty in America in half.
- Most Americans are expected to receive approximately $3,000 for children ages 6-17 and $3,600 for children under age 6.
- Individuals earning up to $75,000 per year and couples earning up to $150,000 per year are eligible to receive the full payment. From there, the credit will be reduced by $50 for every additional $1,000 of adjusted gross income earned.
- The provision in the bill lasts for tax year 2021 only and will be delivered periodically via direct deposit.
- The bill provides $150 billion for the FEMA Emergency Food and Shelter Program. The program supports temporary overnight housing, one month’s utility payments, and mortgage and rent assistance.
- Extends the 15 percent boost in SNAP benefits through September 30, 2021.
- The American Rescue plan provides approximately $5 billion for Pandemic-EBT and $800 million for WIC.
- Approximately $15 billion is allocated to child care providers through the Child Care Development Block Grant (CCDBG). An additional $24 billion is included for child care stabilization grant funds. Kentucky is expected to receive over $763 million to secure our struggling child care sector.
- $1 billion is provided nationally for the Head Start program.
- Nearly $130 billion is provided for public K-12 education as schools across the country prepare to return to and/or continue some form of in-person instruction.
- Funds will be used to assist school districts in making in-person learning safe for students, teachers, and staff. Particular attention is paid to funding for summer enrichment, technology, and afterschool programs.
- Post-secondary institutions will receive about $40 billion to assist with emergency financial aid grants and to alleviate other student concerns caused by the pandemic.
- All COVID-19 related student loan relief will also be tax free.
Health Care Services
Rural Health Care
- The bill provides $8.5 billion for the Provider Relief Program that is intended to serve rural health care providers.
- The Continuation of Health Coverage (COBRA) health insurance program, designed to provide workers and their families who lose health coverage due to involuntary job loss, is extended from 85% of value to 100%.
- More funding is allocated to increase contact tracing services and vaccine distribution efforts.
- The public health workforce is also expanded to support vaccine efforts.
- Every adult American will have the opportunity to be vaccinated by the end of May 2021 per President Biden.
While it seems that we are close to closing the chapter on the COVID-19 pandemic, remember that we are not yet in the all-clear. Additionally, the impact of COVID-19 will long outlive the virus itself. Remember to stay vigilant and to continue to look out for yourself and others as we approach the spring and summer months.
Stay safe, Kentucky!