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Policy update: New bipartisan COVID-19 relief bill and FY 2021 spending bill gain momentum

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Policy update: New bipartisan COVID-19 relief bill and FY 2021 spending bill gain momentum

This Friday, December 18, 2020, is the new deadline for Congress to pass a FY 2021 spending bill (or another short-term continuing resolution) to ensure the federal government continues to operate. To meet that deadline, both House and Senate leadership are convening this week in an effort to build agreement and support for both a sweeping trillion dollar FY 2021 omnibus spending bill as well as a coronavirus relief package – with the hope that both would pass together before the Friday deadline.

A bipartisan groups of senators who are working on a new COVID-19 relief bill released a detailed summary and legislative text on December 14. This compromise bill includes an extension of unemployment insurance and funding for schools, vaccine distribution, and small businesses, among other provisions. The bipartisan coalition was not able to reach an agreement on the two COVID-19 relief issues that have been the most contentious for Congress to solve: liability protections for businesses, schools, nonprofits, and other entities operating during the pandemic, as well as more funding for state and local governments. Instead, the bipartisan group of senators broke the package into two parts, a $748 billion bill bundling together education, child care, broadband access, small business support, and other less-controversial proposals; and a second more targeted bill that includes liability protections backed by Republicans and $160 billion in state and local aid sought by Democrats.

From an afterschool and summer learning program perspective, the first of the two new COVID-19 relief bills, known as the Emergency Coronavirus Relief Act of 2020, includes the following:

  • Education funds to be distributed in the same manner as the CARES Act, including:
    • $54 billion for the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund (up from $13.5 billion in the CARES Act)
    • $7.5 billion for the Governors Emergency Education Relief Fund (up from $3 billion in the CARES Act), including $2.5 billion for private schools
    • $20 billion for the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund (up from $14.25 billion in the CARES Act)
    • The Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund allowable uses of funds are modified from those in the CARES Act, and include afterschool, stating that the funds can be used for, “Meeting the social and emotional needs of students and educators, including providing mental health services and trauma-informed supports, including using diagnostic assessments to identify students’ needs, supporting access to school-age child care, and services provided by afterschool programs and community learning centers.” This new language should help get more education funds to community learning center and hubs, as well as programs operating during virtual school days.
  • The flexibility language from the bipartisan 21st Century Community Learning Centers Coronavirus Relief Act (S. 4868) is included in the new package. This language provides the flexibility to use 21st CCLC funds during the virtual school day in the 15 states that have not been granted 21st CCLC flexibility waivers from the Department of Education. Unfortunately the additional funding for 21st CCLC was not included in this package.
  • Second round of Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) funds with an additional $300 billion provided to the Small Business Administration. Funding is targeted to hardest-hit nonprofits and small businesses to receive a second forgivable Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan. Eligibility criteria differs from that in the CARES Act.
  • For Child Care, the bill appropriates $10 billion for a new Child Care Stabilization Fund grant program at the Department of Health and Human Services to provide grants for child care providers, including school-age providers:
    • Grants would be available to child care providers that are currently open or temporarily closed due to COVID-19, regardless of whether they had previously received funding through the existing Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG) program.
    • Providers could use stabilization grants for a variety of purposes, including personnel costs; sanitization and cleaning; personal protective equipment; fixed costs, including mortgage obligations, rent, utilities and insurance; and modifications to child care services as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • The proposed bill would provide $3 billion for an Emergency Educational Connectivity Fund to provide E-rate support for educational and distance learning providers. The funds can be used for hotspots, devices, and other connected devices. The bill also includes $6.25 billion for State Broadband Deployment and Connectivity grants to expand affordable access to broadband.
  • $200 million to Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) to purchase and distribute Internet-connected devices to libraries in low-income and rural areas.
  • Provides increased funding for school and child care meal programs.

The second measure, the Bipartisan State and Local Support and Small Business Protection Act of 2020, would provide $160 billion for state, local, and tribal assistance. The bill would provide $152 billion through the Coronavirus Relief Fund (CRF) established in the CARES Act, which would be distributed at governors’ discretion. Several states have put CARES Act CRF funds toward afterschool, school-age care, and other education initiatives. It would also extend the deadline to use funds to Dec. 31, 2021. Currently, those funds are set to expire at the end of this year. This second bill also provides limited liability protection to businesses, schools, and other institutions.

The current plan is for the Emergency Coronavirus Relief Act of 2020 (and possibly the Bipartisan State and Local Support and Small Business Protection Act of 2020) to be attached to the FY 2021 Omnibus spending bill with votes on the entire package to be held in the House of Representatives the afternoon of Thursday, December 17, and votes in the Senate on Friday, December 18. It is also possible Congress will have to work into the weekend to complete these votes. Check back for updates this week, particularly after the legislative text of the FY 2021 spending bill is released.

Congress and the next COVID-19 relief bill – where do things stand?

As we move into the second half of August we wanted to give you an update on the status of Covid-19 relief legislation negotiations in Washington, DC. The hope was that by this time, with many school districts starting to return for the new school year, a new COVID-19 relief bill would have already...

BY: Erik Peterson      08/19/20

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After a week long delay, Senate Majority Leader McConnell (R-KY) announced the latest proposed Covid-19 relief bill – the Heals Act - on Monday afternoon, July 27.  According to the announcement,  the HEALS Actaddresses three critical crises facing the country: getting kids back to...

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Senate Leadership releases HEALS Act COVID-19 relief bill, includes support for education, child care

After a week long delay, Senate Majority Leader McConnell (R-KY) announced the latest proposed Covid-19 relief bill – the Heals Act - on Monday afternoon, July 27.  According to the announcement,  the HEALS Actaddresses three critical crises facing the country: getting kids back to...

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New proposal calls for $6 billion in afterschool funding to support programs this fall

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New Senate bill tackles education and child care needs resulting from COVID-19

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Trump administration proposes eliminating afterschool, again

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Congress and the next COVID-19 relief bill – where do things stand?

As we move into the second half of August we wanted to give you an update on the status of Covid-19 relief legislation negotiations in Washington, DC. The hope was that by this time, with many school districts starting to return for the new school year, a new COVID-19 relief bill would have already...

BY: Erik Peterson      08/19/20

New Senate bill tackles education and child care needs resulting from COVID-19

As the number of COVID-19 cases continues to climb along with unemployment claims, pressure has continued to build for the Senate to take up another COVID-19 relief and response bill.  Last week, the White House and the Secretary of Education mounted a public relations campaign calling for all...

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BY: Erik Peterson      07/08/20

HR 266 signed into law; additional Paycheck Protection Program funds are now available

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BY: Erik Peterson      04/27/20

One week until the Virtual Afterschool for All Challenge: A policy and appropriations update

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BY: Erik Peterson      03/10/20

Trump administration proposes eliminating afterschool, again

On a rainy Monday in Washington, the Trump administration released its fiscal year 2021 full budget proposal. The full budget represents the president’s vision for how Congress should spend federal funds for the fiscal year that begins October 1, 2020 (FY 2021) and, for the fourth...

BY: Erik Peterson      02/10/20

The time is now: Share your afterschool success story with senators

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Trump administration proposes eliminating afterschool

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Get the latest afterschool STEM news in your inbox

The next issue of the Afterschool Lab Report is coming in just a few days. Brought to you each quarter by the Afterschool STEM Hub, a project of the Afterschool Alliance, the newsletter provides the latest STEM education policy updates, new resources, upcoming opportunities for advocacy, and new...

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BY: Erik Peterson      10/03/19

Federal support for STEM and making in afterschool

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BY: Guest Blogger      06/25/19

Get the latest afterschool STEM news in your inbox

The next issue of the Afterschool Lab Report is coming at the end of April. Brought to you each quarter by the Afterschool STEM Hub, a project of the Afterschool Alliance, the newsletter provides the latest STEM education policy updates, new resources, upcoming opportunities for advocacy, and new...

BY: Leah Silverberg      04/15/19

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BY: Chris Neitzey      04/09/19

Investments in quality afterschool STEM policy will continue in 2019

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BY: Chris Neitzey      12/18/18

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BY: Chris Neitzey      12/07/18

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BY: Jillian Luchner      10/09/18

Get the latest afterschool STEM news in your inbox

The next issue of the Afterschool Lab Report is coming in just a few days. Brought to you each quarter by the Afterschool STEM Hub, a project of the Afterschool Alliance, the newsletter provides the latest STEM education policy updates, new resources, upcoming opportunities for advocacy, and new...

BY: Leah Silverberg      10/31/19

Bipartisan Youth Workforce Readiness Act announced

In late September, plans to introduce the bipartisan, bicameral Youth Workforce Readiness Act were announced in the House and Senate by Sen. Smith (D-Minn.) and Rep .Josh Harder (D-Calif.) and Brian Fitzpatrick (R-Pa.). The legislation would provide funding for hands-on skills education at...

BY: Erik Peterson      10/03/19

Federal support for STEM and making in afterschool

Picture a center filled with computers, paired with a wood and metal shop, combined with a sewing studio, mixed with an arts and crafts room, filled with people of all ages building and making things to solve problems – this is the foundation of a maker space. Maker spaces were born out of...

BY: Leah Silverberg      08/12/19

Afterschool makes a difference for middle school career exposure in CTE

“Imaginations are what will carry us to the future, and (for me) Digital Harbor helped to expand it,” 7th grader Jacob Leggette proclaimed in front of the full room at the Senate Career and Technical (CTE) Education Caucus  and Afterschool Alliance Briefing on June 25. The...

BY: Jillian Luchner      07/09/19

Putting afterschool to work: Career exploration in out-of-school settings

By Jillian Luchner, Christopher Neitzey, and Austin Estes from Advance CTE. This is a cross-post of the first blog post in a series on the intersection of CTE and afterschool programs, exploring strategies and opportunities to bridge learning both in and out of the classroom. The original...

BY: Guest Blogger      06/25/19

Get the latest afterschool STEM news in your inbox

The next issue of the Afterschool Lab Report is coming at the end of April. Brought to you each quarter by the Afterschool STEM Hub, a project of the Afterschool Alliance, the newsletter provides the latest STEM education policy updates, new resources, upcoming opportunities for advocacy, and new...

BY: Leah Silverberg      04/15/19

New toolkit for partnering on career and technical education

In July 2018, the Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act, or Perkins V, was passed by Congress and signed into law. The legislation reauthorizes the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act and provides much needed updates to the law that reflect the...

BY: Chris Neitzey      04/09/19

Investments in quality afterschool STEM policy will continue in 2019

For successful advocacy efforts, slow and steady wins the race. Advancing legislation or budget requests at the state or federal level requires resources, content expertise, and a dedication that often spans a timeframe far longer than originally anticipated. As we enter the third year of a...

BY: Chris Neitzey      12/18/18

What does the Trump administration’s 5-Year STEM Education Strategy mean for afterschool?

NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine On December 4, the White House released their five-year STEM education plan, entitled Charting a Course for Success: America’s Strategy for STEM Education. The plan is a required component of the America COMPETES Act of 2010, which mandates that the...

BY: Chris Neitzey      12/07/18

Afterschool goes to college

After celebrating an updated law in Career and Technical Education (CTE) in July, it’s natural to ask “What’s next?” in the education landscape for Congress. One thing on the agenda is the Higher Education Act, or HEA, which governs federal investments in making quality...

BY: Jillian Luchner      10/09/18