Federal stimulus bill: How will it support Coloradans?

Written by: Children's Campaign
Date Posted: March 27, 2020

The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act is the third and most expansive bill considered by Congress this month to address the public health and economic consequences of the COVID-19 outbreak. It is the largest stimulus package in modern American history. The U.S. House of Representatives is expected to pass the legislation today, March 27. Our analysts have been tracking what it will mean for Coloradans. We will have a full analysis of the impact of the bill on family economic security next week. In the meantime, here are some highlights in the areas of education, health and early childhood:

Education:

The bill includes significant support for K-12 education, with more funding going to states and schools that support students from low-income families. To be distributed among states is $13.5 billion for remote learning technology, school building sanitization, mental health services, and summer learning programs to make up for lost instructional time. Each state’s share of the funding will be determined by how much funding it receives through Title I, meaning states with higher numbers of low-income students will receive more money. At least 90 percent of funds must be passed on to school districts.

School districts could also receive some of the $3 billion that will be distributed to governors depending on each state’s population of children and young people, and the $8.8 billion that will fund child nutrition, including school meals. — Leslie Colwell

Health:

The bill contains several investments in our health care infrastructure to fight and recover from the outbreak. It includes significant funding for hospitals and health care providers, investments in the development of vaccines and treatments, funds to rebuild the strategic national stockpile, from which materials (such as personal protective equipment and ventilators) are currently being shipped across the country, increased funding for the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration to support mental health, additional funding for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) to cover the anticipated increase in SNAP use, and increased funding for Federally Qualified Health Centers. The bill also establishes grant programs to support telehealth, especially in rural areas and requires COVID-19 testing and the eventual vaccine to be covered by private health plans without cost-sharing.

However, several of our priorities are missing from the bill including an expanded SNAP benefit that is easier to use (such as by allowing online purchases and deliveries to at-risk groups), protections against eviction during the outbreak, and a further increase in the federal percentage of Medicaid payments to help support states as Medicaid rolls grow during the economic downtown and many beneficiaries need significant health services. — Erin Miller

Early Childhood:

The CARES Act provides significant support to families and the child care industry, which has been hit particularly hard by the COVID-19 crisis just when child care providers are needed most to ensure essential personnel can go to work.

Some of the significant components of the CARES Act that support the child care industry:

  • Provides $3.5 billion in grants to states through the Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG) Program for immediate assistance to child care providers to prevent them from going out of business, allow them to pay staff and to support child care for families, particularly to support the care of children of essential workers (medical staff, first responders).
    • It is estimated that Colorado will receive approximately $41.4M of this money.
    • These grant funds will be available to any child care provider, not just those who were receiving CCDBG money prior to the pandemic.
  • Includes $750 million for grants to all Head Start programs.
  • Non-profit and for-profit child care providers with less than 500 employees will be eligible to apply for small business loans of up to $10M, some of which is eligible for forgiveness.
  • Provides $265 million for grants for small business development centers (including women’s and minority business centers) to offer counseling, training and assistance to small businesses (such as child care providers) affected by COVID-19.
  • Expands eligibility for providers to access the Small Business Administration’s (SBA) Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDL) and gives SBA flexibility to process and disperse small dollar loans.

For more information, please read updates from the First Five Years Fund or the Bipartisan Policy Center. — Bill Jaeger

Children's Campaign

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About Children's Campaign

The Colorado Children’s Campaign is a nonprofit, nonpartisan advocacy organization committed since 1985 to realizing every chance for every child in Colorado. We advocate for the development and implementation of data-driven public policies that improve child wellbeing in health, education and early childhood. We do this by providing Coloradans with trusted data and research on child wellbeing and organizing an extensive state-wide network of dedicated child advocates. For more information, please visit www.coloradokids.org.