Generations United COVID-19 Response Recommendations

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To help address the devastating impact of COVID-19 on grandfamilies, children and older adults, Generations United urges Congress to support the following recommendations:  

Recommendations to Support Grandfamilies: 

Provide Funds for Kinship Navigator Programs to Deliver Supplies and Support to Grandfamilies: Kinship Navigator Programs are information and referral programs that help grandparents and other relatives raising children connect to critical services and information to help them.  Currently operating in most states these programs are trusted sources of information and support to grandfamilies. They can identify grandfamilies in need and coordinate with other community-based programs to help families get critical supplies and support.   Yet the programs need more resources to meet the skyrocketing demand for help from the families during the pandemic.   These nimble programs are often skilled at leveraging resources and securing additional support from community donations and local businesses, but these approaches are not working during the pandemic because many of those community resources are overburdened and also struggling themselves. Furthermore, many kinship programs are supported in part by state funds, but they are experiencing cutbacks from the states which are strapped for cash because they are responding to other aspects of the pandemic and facing the prospect of reduced tax revenue.

Request: $20 Million for Kinship Navigator Programs to coordinate with local grandfamily service providers to get supplies, information and support to families.

Provide Emergency Funding to Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) and Urge States to Increase Support for Child-Only TANF for Grandfamilies/Kin: Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, many grandparents and other relatives raising children were working to support their families or were depleting their retirement savings to pay for the children’s needs. Large numbers of these caregivers have now lost full or part time jobs and retirements savings are plummeting. Unlike non-related foster parents, grandparents and other relatives usually are not given the opportunity to become licensed foster parents for the children they are raising and do not receive a foster care payment to help pay for the children’s needs. For many grandfamilies, “child-only” TANF (Temporary Assistance for Needy Families) is the only financial support available to help meet the needs of these children. Child-only TANF provides critical support that does not require grandparents and other caregivers to spend down retirement savings or sell critical assets such as vehicles.  However, the child-only TANF amounts are low.  They are determined by each state and are inadequate to meet children’s needs, especially during these challenging times.  TANF child-only rates start as low as $110 per month per child in certain parts of the country. This amount only rises incrementally for each additional child in a grandfamily.

Request: Provide emergency funds for TANF to protect families from the economic downturn and urge states to increase the dollar amounts of their TANF child-only grants for grandparents and other relatives raising children.

Recommendations to Support Children, Families, and Older Adults including Grandfamilies:

Child Abuse Prevention, the Child Welfare System and Older Youth Transitioning from Foster Care:  The impacts of COVID-19 are putting stress on families who are attempting to navigate new public health safety protocols, school closures, uncertain childcare arrangements, job losses, social isolation, and significant barriers to many critical support services.  Without interventions to support families, the kinds of stress that the COVID-19 pandemic is creating contribute to increased risk of child abuse and neglect. Strengthening the child welfare system to face these challenges requires a comprehensive approach that addresses the entire child welfare continuum.

Request: Increased investments in the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Block Grant ($1 billion), the MaryLee Allen Promoting Safe and Stable Families Program ($1 billion), the Title IV-E Prevention Programs (increase FMAP rate), and the Court Improvement Programs ($30 million), and Title IV-E Chaffee funds ($500 million), Kinship Navigator Programs ($20 million.)

Social Services Block Grant: The Social Services Block Grant (SSBG) helps states respond to growing needs of some of the most vulnerable groups during the pandemic- older adults, people with disabilities, and children. SSBG can be used for critical services experiencing increased pressure including child protective services, child abuse prevention supports, foster care, domestic violence services, meals on wheels and adult protective services. These funds are flexible and can be tailored to meet needs of the community.  SSBG has a history of being used to help states during national disaster such as hurricanes Katrina and Rita.

Request: Increase the Social Services Block Grant by $4.1 billion. Extend funding to tribal governments and communities with a set aside of no less than 5%.