After eight months of action alerts, advocate virtual forums, and urging our federal leaders to remember children and their families, the U.S. Congress passed and the President signed into law a $908 billion Coronavirus aid package in the closing days of 2020; the largest aid package in American history second only to the CARES Act passed in March 2020.
We’ve seen the news stories or heard the personal experiences of Kentuckians struggling to feed their family or pay their rent, to keep their children caught up with schoolwork while distance learning, and to find quality, affordable child care as they go to work. Thanks in large part to the voices of advocates throughout Kentucky and the nation, families and children will begin to receive the help that has been requested for so long.
Please note that the following dollar amounts are federal estimates, and Kentucky, along with the other 49 states, tribal lands, and U.S. territories, will receive a share of these federal dollars.
Nutrition Assistance – The most recent relief package provides the following resources to assist families struggling to keep food on the table:
- Ensures that Pandemic EBT benefits cover each child under 6-years old in Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) households where a local school or daycare has been closed or has reduced hours.
- Partially (55%) reimburses school food authorities and covered daycare centers for costs incurred during sudden COVID-19 emergency school closures in Spring 2020.
- Temporarily increases the SNAP program’s monthly benefits for 6-months and requires a report on redemption rates during benefits increase period.
- Temporarily suspends work requirements for SNAP-eligible college students while work-study programs may not be operating during COVID emergency.
- Provides $100 million in FY21 for state SNAP agency administrative costs to process increased SNAP applications and implement COVID emergency measures.
- Provides additional $400 million for The Emergency Food Assistance Program, $75 million to supplement the diets of SNAP recipients with fresh fruit and vegetables, and $1.5 billion to purchase and distribute agricultural products, including fresh produce, dairy, meat and seafood.
To check your eligibility for SNAP and Pandemic EBT benefits and to apply for assistance, please visit the Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services website.
Housing Assistance – The aid package provides relief for families struggling to remain in their homes due to the financial strains caused by the pandemic:
- $25 billion in rental assistance. Those eligible for assistance must spend 90% of funds directly on rent, utility costs, or other factors related to COVID-19. Low-income households or households with unemployed family members will be given priority access.
- Extends the eviction moratorium to January 31, 2021.
Be sure to monitor Team Kentucky’s Healthy at Home Eviction Relief Fund Application website in the coming weeks as federal funds are made available to the state.
Unemployment Insurance – The aid package extended unemployment benefits that expired at the end of December 2020 and:
- Adds an additional $300 per week in federal unemployment benefits through mid-March.
- Adds an additional 13 weeks of unemployment payments to the self-employed, gig economy workers, and freelancers who exhaust their current benefits.
Direct Payments – The package provides $600 direct payment stimulus checks to those who are eligible:
- The payments will phase out for individuals making $75,000 or more per year. Those making $99,000 or more per year will receive nothing. The income restrictions are doubled for married couples.
- Families will receive an additional $600 per child.
- Payments will be calculated based on 2019 tax returns. Payments are expected to be in individual bank accounts as early as January 1, 2021.
Small Business Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) – The package reopens the popular Paycheck Protection Program first unveiled in the CARES Act:
- Loans are limited to those with fewer than 300 employees that have seen a drop of at least 25% of their revenue in the first, second, or third quarter of 2020.
- Businesses may apply for up to $2 million in assistance. For information concerning loan forgiveness and how to apply to the PPP program, please visit the U.S. Small Business Administration website.
Child Care – The package includes an additional $10 billion in child care relief including direct support for child care providers for fixed costs and operating expenses, to help ensure working parents have access to child care so they can work or return to work.
- Kentucky is expected to receive approximately $192 million in federal relief funds to support our struggling child care sector.
Pre-kindergarten-12 and Higher Education – The package includes $82 billion in a national education stabilization fund:
- $250 million to help Head Start programs address additional costs related to COVID-19.
- $4.1 billion for the Governors Emergency Education Relief (GEER) Fund, which provides flexible funding to Governors to be used for early childhood education, elementary and secondary education, or higher education, based on the needs of the state, of which $2.5 billion is for Emergency Assistance to Non-Public Schools.
- $54.3 billion for the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) Fund, which provides grants to states, including funding allocated to school districts based on existing formulas, for a wide range of school-based uses.
- $22.7 billion for the Higher Education Emergency Relief (HEER) Fund, which provides grants directly to institutions of higher education to help defray expenses related to COVID-19, provide additional financial aid to students, and provide additional services to students for authorized activities.
Broadband Internet Access – The package includes $7 billion for expanding access to high speed internet.
- Funds are used to off-set the cost of internet bills for low-income families.
- $300 million is provided for rural broadband internet infrastructure.
Care for Foster Youth and Older Youth – The package includes additional funding to support foster and older youth:
- Extends program flexibilities to allow states to continue meeting the needs of youth during the pandemic and prevent youth from aging out of foster care.
- Provides additional funding for the MaryLee Allen Promoting Safe and Stable Families program, including funding for the court improvement program.
- Provides flexibilities to home visiting and kinship navigator programs.
Reducing Youth Tobacco Use – The package includes language that prevents the online sale of e-cigarettes to youth.
Thank you to the many statewide advocates who continued to push for this much needed relief for kids and families. Without your help, it is likely that many of the above resources would not have come to fruition.
Let’s continue to remain vigilant in our efforts to make Kentucky the best place in America to be a kid!