Government Affairs and Advocacy
Oct. 25 Federal Update: Progressives and Moderates at Standstill on Families Plan
Negotiations continue in Washington on the large reconciliation bill that would advance parts of President Biden’s American Families Plan. President Biden continues to advocate for the key components of his economic plan, a plan that will require consensus across the Democratic party in order to advance in Congress. Though initially a $3.5 trillion package, press reports last week hint at a modified package between $1.9 and $2.2 trillion. These compromises are meant to address concerns by moderate Sens. Joe Manchin (D-W.V.) and Kristen Sinema (D-Ariz). However, progressive members in the House of Representatives are standing firm on the inclusion of key priorities like climate change provisions. Biden is pushing Congress to come up with an agreement before Oct. 30, though that is looking less certain.
Still on the table in the negotiations are child care; pre-K; and home-based health care; climate provisions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the U.S. by 50 percent by 2030; a Medicare expansion for expanded dental, vision, and hearing coverage; funds for the Affordable Care Act; health-care gap closure; and a one- to two-year extension for the Child Tax Credit, initially included for five years. Other provisions on the table include four weeks of guaranteed paid family leave, public housing dollars, free community college, investments in racial equity programs, and more. With a looming deadline of Oct. 30, hopefully Congress will reach some agreements soon.
Federal Reserve Shares Survey Results of COVID-19 Impact on Nonprofits, Communities
Earlier this year, our organization partnered with the Federal Reserve to distribute an important survey to our network. This survey looks at the impact of the pandemic on nonprofit organizations, their financial health, and the communities they serve. The results and report, Perspectives from Main Street: The impact of COVID-19 on communities and the entities serving them, was released last week. The survey had some important findings. For example, 77% of survey respondents noted that conditions for children were worse than they were pre-pandemic. Across almost every category, half the respondents estimated it would take between one and three years to return to pre-pandemic conditions, while almost a quarter noted it would take at least four years for housing stability to return to pre-pandemic conditions. When asked how COVID-19 affected their organizations, almost 70% of respondents said demand for services increased, while almost half noted a decrease in their ability to serve their communities. Thank you to those of you who participated.
WIC Modernization Project Underway
The Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) received $390 million through the American Rescue Plan of 2021 to modernize the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC) and the WIC Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program (WIC FMNP). FNS used these funds with two goals in mind: Boost enrollment and retention in these programs and increase equity in program delivery. In May and June, FNS held 27 listening sessions with state agency administrators, program participants, industry partners, scholars, and advocates. These stakeholders stressed the need for creating partnerships across sectors to reduce disparities and supporting technological innovation to improve accessibility. Coming out of the listening sessions, FNS decided on several action items. First, FNS will launch pilots to test innovative state-level outreach efforts for reaching underserved communities. Second, FNS will invest in a national assistance center that uses business and technology solutions to improve the certification process for new applicants. Third, FNS will work to move shopping and benefit transactions online, including at farmers markets. Finally, FNS will address disparities in service delivery by supporting evidence-based approaches, like building new local partnerships, to provide culturally sensitive and competent services.
Source: Food and Nutrition Service
Department of Education Announces Overhaul of Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program
The Department of Education (DOE) announced new actions it will take to immediately discharge federal student loans for 22,000 borrowers and potentially for 27,0000 more. The Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) Program was created to recognize the contribution of individuals dedicated to public service – government workers, teachers, nurses, firefighters, and nonprofit employees – by canceling their student loans after 10 years of service. After receiving more than 48,000 public comments on PSLF, the DOE is issuing a time-limited waiver so that student borrowers can count payments from all federal loans programs towards forgiveness, even from programs that were not previously eligible. The waiver will also simplify the technical requirements around the payment plan, timing, and the amount of the payment. DOE states that this waiver will apply to over 550,000 borrowers. DOE has also vowed to enhance outreach and communications with PSLF-eligible borrowers and simplify the application process. Up until now, only 16,000 borrowers have ever received forgiveness under the program.
Source: Department of Education
CHAMPS Releases New Federal Policy Recommendations
The Children Need Amazing Parents (CHAMPS) campaign recently released its new set of policy recommendations, which are grounded in child development research and developed with a broad coalition including foster and adoptive families, kinship caregivers, birth families, and young people with lived experience in foster care. These recommendations focus around increasing stability and quality of family-based care and increased supports for kinship caregivers, spurring improvements to foster parent recruitment, having the Department of Health and Human Services produce annual data on trends on family-based and congregate care, and more. You can read more detail online.