Government Affairs and Advocacy

Nov. 6 Federal Update: Support the Streamlining Federal Grants Act

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November 6, 2023

The Streamlining Federal Grants Act was recently introduced in the Senate and House (S. 2286/H.R. 5934) and seeks to improve the effectiveness and performance of federal grants and cooperative agreements, simplify application and reporting requirements, and facilitate greater coordination among federal agencies responsible for delivering services to the public. Notable for nonprofits, the bill promotes consultation with charitable organizations and governments and calls for improving services delivered to communities and organizations that historically have been unable to access federal grants or cooperative agreements.

Read the nonprofit coalition letter in support of the Streamlining Federal Grants Act. The due date to sign on has now passed. We still encourage you to take action and reach out to your members of Congress today.

Budget Proposals Still Lack Necessary Funds for WIC

As the Nov. 17 deadline nears, lawmakers are still negotiating the federal budget, with many expecting another continuing resolution that will fund the government temporarily while compromises are hashed out. According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, the current proposals under consideration in both the House and Senate fall significantly below the necessary funding levels for the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC). WIC stands as a remarkably effective program, providing nutrition aid, educational resources, and assistance to families with limited incomes. Absent supplementary funding, an estimated 600,000 eligible new parents and young children may be denied access to WIC, potentially resulting in waitlists and decreased enrollment. This funding shortfall could also dissuade eligible families from seeking program benefits.

Insufficient funding for WIC would mark an extraordinary situation, predominantly impacting recent parents, young children, and preschoolers, potentially resulting in heightened food insecurity and enduring health ramifications. The Senate bill allocates $6.3 billion for WIC, but this sum falls short due to the increasing levels of participation and rising food costs. Estimates suggest that Congress must allocate a total of $7.1 billion for WIC in 2024 to ensure that every eligible family can access the complete benefit. Congress is strongly encouraged to honor its commitment and supply the requisite funding for WIC as the appropriations process unfolds.

Youth Prevention and Recovery Reauthorization Act Introduced

On Oct. 18, Senators Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.) and Gary Peters (D-Mich.) introduced the bipartisan Youth Prevention and Recovery Reauthorization Act to reauthorize funding for the Youth Prevention and Recovery Initiative. This initiative was established as part of the 2018 SUPPORT Act, focusing on expanding access to opioid addiction treatment for adolescents. It aims to secure ongoing funding for this critical resource within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, benefiting youth, families, care providers, and communities.

The backdrop for this legislation is a troubling rise in opioid use among American adolescents, with over 695,000 using opioids for nonmedical purposes in 2018, marking a substantial increase since 2015. Additionally, during the initial two years of the COVID-19 pandemic, monthly drug overdose deaths among adolescents aged 10 to 19 nearly tripled, according to the CDC. The legislation aims to address these difficulties by allocating funds to broaden the availability of medications for treating opioid addiction among adolescents and young adults. It also intends to raise awareness of the hazards linked to opioids and provide training to healthcare professionals, families, and school staff in effective strategies to support adolescents dealing with opioid use disorders.

New Funding for Community Development Projects

On Oct. 10, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced the allocation of $16.7 million in new grants to support 39 Community Economic Development (CED) projects. The CED initiative aims to broaden the scope of employment prospects in regions grappling with long-standing poverty and elevated joblessness, all while eradicating hindrances to secure employment. These grants empower beneficiaries to furnish crucial supports, such as childcare, transportation, and financial education.

These grants aim to create over 575 new, sustainable full-time jobs for individuals residing in low-income communities across 26 states. Three-quarters of the job opportunities originating from each CED grant will be set aside for individuals with low incomes, and awardees will provide assistance services to tackle the employment obstacles faced by this group.

Notably, many of the awarded grants align with the Justice40 Initiative, benefitting disadvantaged communities and furthering the goal of fostering sustainable economies in areas that need it most. The CED initiative is managed by the Administration for Children and Families’ Office of Community Services, which administers multiple anti-poverty programs to address poverty’s root causes, enhance economic security, and revitalize communities.

HHS and HUD Tackle Housing and Homelessness Together

On Nov. 1, Secretary Xavier Becerra was named the chair of the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness (USICH), which coordinates the federal homelessness strategy, supporting state and local efforts to address homelessness. To combat homelessness and enhance housing accessibility, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced several initiatives, including nine new grants worth $2.1 million to strengthen wrap around services for families living in affordable housing and 11 grants totaling nearly $4 million for preventing youth homelessness.

Furthermore, HHS and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) have launched the Housing and Services Partnership Accelerator (Accelerator). This initiative aids states in enhancing pioneering housing-related assistance and services for individuals with disabilities and older adults facing homelessness risks. The Accelerator assembles cross-disciplinary teams from four states to confront shared challenges and enhance cooperation and coordination. Its primary objectives are to optimize resource utilization, harmonize policies, and provide comprehensive services.

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