Policy News

Oct. 8 Federal Update: Congress Avoids Shutdown for Now, Infrastructure Deal Delayed

Alliance
October 8, 2021

Congress Averts Government Shutdown 

Less than two weeks ago, Congress passed a continuing resolution (CR) that will keep the government funded through Dec. 3, with level funding. The bill also extended the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program and the temporary increase in the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC). It also included a $6.3 billion special investment to help resettle Afghan refugees that were evacuated during the U.S. withdrawal as well as $29 billion in aid to communities who were impacted by Hurricane Ida. 

Source: APHSA

COVID-19 Chafee Expanded Benefits Expired on Sept. 30

As the pandemic continues, young people with experience in foster care still face significant challenges in meeting basic needs and accessing funds and services. The Supporting Foster Youth & Families through the Pandemic Act (Division X of the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021) has brought critical aid to young people. However, because of delays in implementation, many young people are still awaiting relief. Despite these needs, many provisions of the law expired Sept. 30, 2021, cutting off services for young people.

Congressional Caucus on Foster Youth co-chairs Reps. Karen Bass (D-Calif.), Don Bacon (R-Neb.), Jim Langevin (D-R.I.), Brenda Lawrence (D-Mich.), and Markwayne Mullin (R-Okla.) have introduced a bipartisan bill, H.R. 5167, to extend emergency protections for youth. The bill would ensure that vital supports are continued by:

  • Providing an additional $400 million in Chafee funds so that resources and supports remain available to young people
  • Extending Chafee and Education and Training Voucher program flexibilities, including the extension of the age eligibility through age 26 (until turning age 27), until Sept. 30, 2022, so that young people in need can receive services
  • Extending the moratorium on aging out of foster care and the requirement for re-entry into foster care until Sept. 30, 2022, so young people do not discharge to homelessness and instability

Below are some additional #ReUpChafee resources from the Transition Aged Youth Federal Coalition: 

Source: Child Welfare and Mental Health Coalition

HUD Announces Grants Awards to End Youth Homelessness

Marcia Fudge, secretary of Housing and Urban Development, announced that 13 local communities, including 11 rural communities, will receive $142 million from HUD’s Youth Homelessness Demonstration Program. These dollars will help local organizations deliver services, such as rapid rehousing, permanent housing, and transitional housing, to youth across the nation. As part of the application process, HUD partnered with individuals with lived experience to assess the approximately 100 applications, ensuring that grant recipients understood the concrete challenges facing young people in their care. The grants require that communities develop a comprehensive plan through a partnership of youth advisory boards, child welfare agencies, and community-based organizations. Moreover, awarded communities will conduct program evaluations to inform future work around ending youth homelessness.

USDA Prepares for Restoration of SNAP Time Limits for Some Recipients

The U.S. Department of Agriculture, which oversees the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), sent a policy memo to state agencies in preparation for the end of the Public Health Emergency period. As part of the Family First Coronavirus Response Act passed at the beginning of the pandemic, work requirements for able-bodied adults without dependents (ABAWDs) were suspended. As the memo states, a month after the Public Health Emergency is lifted by the secretary of Health and Human Services, SNAP policy for adults aged 18-49, who do not have dependents and are not pregnant, will return to pre-COVID-19 conditions. This population will not be able to receive SNAP benefits for more than three months within a three-year period unless they meet work requirements. The memo also notes that states can request waivers of the time limit, which can be granted on a case-by-case basis depending on local unemployment and job availability rates.

Children’s Bureau Letter to Child Welfare Leaders on Housing

In preparation for the expiration of the eviction moratorium, Aysha Schomburg, associate commissioner of the Children’s Bureau, released a Dear Colleague Letter to child welfare leaders and prevention partners. The letter outlined key resources for community-based organizations and public agencies as they meet the challenge of evictions and housing insecurity. Schomburg cited the Emergency Rental Assistance Program, which helps landlords and renters with billions of dollars for qualifying households; 70,000 new Emergency Housing Vouchers, which can be given to families experiencing housing insecurity; and the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program, which helps with electric and gas bills. She also mentioned specific programs available through the Children’s Bureau that can be used to address housing needs, including the John H. Chafee Foster Care Program for Successful Transition to Adulthood, the MaryLee Allen Promoting Safe and Stable Families Program and the Community-Based Child Abuse Prevention Program. Schomburg urges local organizations to be proactive in connecting families to these resources, assist with documentation and eligibility determinations, attend eviction-related court hearings, and mediate with landlords.

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About Alliance

With millions of children, adults, and families across the nation experiencing barriers to achieving their full potential, the Alliance for Strong Families and Communities works with thousands of committed social sector leaders to help their organizations more positively impact their communities. During this time of immense change in our field, the imperative for our network to be strong, excellent, distinct, and influential has never been greater. Rooted in the historic cause of advancing equity for all people, the Alliance today is a national strategic action network driven by members aligned through shared ownership and a common vision to achieve a healthy and equitable society. The Alliance for Strong Families and Communities represents a network of hundreds member organizations across the U.S. The member network is comprised of private human-serving nonprofits that provide direct services to children, families, adults, and communities and state or regional federations, councils, and associations.