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FY 2021 omnibus spending bill and COVID-19 relief package finalized and passed

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FY 2021 omnibus spending bill and COVID-19 relief package finalized and passed

After almost a week of lengthy negotiations concluded on Sunday evening, December 20, the House and Senate approved final text on Monday night for the FY 2021 omnibus spending bill and a new COVID-19 relief bill. This package differs from the one unveiled last Monday by a group of bipartisan senators. After negotiations continued all weekend, the House passed the measure late Monday evening sending the package over to the Senate which passed the $1.4 trillion FY 2021 omnibus spending bill and the $900 billion COVID-19 relief bill just before midnight on December 21. The measure included a short term CR as well giving the president seven days to sign the bill into law. While the COVID-19 relief bill is much needed and will provide critical support to schools, hungry children, families at risk of being evicted, and unemployed Americans, among many other important provisions in the deal, it may not adequate to meet the overwhelming need, particularly for community learning hubs operating in communities nationwide providing in-person supervised learning for students to take their virtual classes. The FY 2021 spending bill includes a much-needed increase of $10 million for the Nita M. Lowey 21st CCLC; however the increase will not meet the increased demand for quality afterschool and summer learning programs, nor increased cost. 

COVID-19 relief bill includes afterschool programs as allowable use of funds

The new COVID-19 relief language is largely similar to that of the CARES Act passed last March. While that approach will make it easier for the Department of Education and other agencies to distribute funds to states quickly, it unfortunately means legislators left out many of the improvements needed to make the CARES Act language more responsive to local needs. From an afterschool and summer learning perspective, the final COVID-19 relief package mirrors the opportunities in the CARES Act and does not includes 21st CCLC flexibility language. The new package includes the following:

  • A total of $81.88 billion in education funds to be distributed in a similar manner as the CARES Act (the CARES Act provided a total of $30.75 billion for these funds) no later than 30 days following the enactment of the law, including:
    • $54.3 billion for the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund (up from $13.5 billion in the CARES Act)
    • $4.05 billion for the Governors Emergency Education Relief Fund (GEER) - up from $3 billion in the CARES Act, but now including funds set-aside for private school emergency relief in the amount of $2.5 billion.  Similar to the CARES Act, the GEER Fund is intended to provide support to any other institution of higher education, local educational agency, or education related entity within the State that the Governor deems essential for carrying out emergency educational services to students following allowable uses described in the bill; or in the Higher Education Act; and the provision of child care and early childhood education, social and emotional support; and the protection of education-related jobs.
    • $22.7 billion for the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund (up from $14.25 billion in the CARES Act)
    • The Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) Fund allowable uses of funds include planning and implementing activities related to summer learning and supplemental afterschool programs, including providing classroom instruction or online learning during the summer months and addressing the needs of low-income students, children with disabilities, English learners, migrant students, students experiencing homelessness, and children in foster care. The education section starts on page 1,859 of the bill.
    • There is a new allowable use section addressing learning loss among students, including low-income students, children with disabilities, English learners, racial and ethnic minorities, students experiencing homelessness, and children and youth in foster care. The funds can be used to administer high-quality assessments; implement evidence-based activities to meet the comprehensive needs of students; provide information and assistance to parents and families on how they can effectively support students, including in a distance learning environment; tracking student attendance and improving student engagement in distance education.
  • This bill includes $284 billion for the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) and extends PPP through March 31, 2021. Changes to PPP include:
    • Provides a second PPP forgivable loan for the hardest-hit small businesses and non-profits with 300 or fewer employees and that can demonstrate a loss of 25% of gross receipts in any quarter during 2020 when compared to the same quarter in 2019;
    • Creates a dedicated $15 billion set-aside for lending through community financial institutions, including Community Development Financial Institutions and Minority Depository Institutions to increase access for minority-owned and other underserved small businesses and nonprofits;
    • Creates a set-aside for very small businesses with 10 or fewer employees and for small businesses located in distressed areas;
    • Expands PPP eligibility for more critical access hospitals, local newspapers and TV and radio broadcasters, housing cooperatives, and 501(c)(6) nonprofits, including tourism promotion organizations and local chambers of commerce;
    • Adds PPE expenses, costs associated with outdoor dining, and supplier costs as eligible and forgivable expenses;
    • Simplifies the forgiveness process for loans of $150,000 and less
  • Direct assistance. $166 billion in direct checks: individuals making up to $75,000 a year will receive a payment of $600, while couples making up to $150,000 will receive $1,200, in addition to $600 per child. The deal also makes the stimulus checks more accessible to immigrant families.
  • Child Care. This legislation provides $10 billion in emergency funds for child care providers through the Child Care and Developmental Block Grant (CCDGB) program. These grants are designed to provide immediate relief to child care providers who and are currently in operation or have been temporarily closed due to the pandemic. Providers will have flexibility in their use of funds, including personnel costs; sanitization and cleaning; personal protective equipment, fixed costs, rent, utilities, and other child care related services. This emergency relief will allow child care providers to remain open or reopen and assist essential workers and families who are in great need of this critical service. The child care language is very similar to that found in the CARES Act that passed last March and includes all licensed, regulated, and registered providers as eligible for funding, providers that were not receiving CCDBG assistance prior to the public health emergency. The child care section starts on page 1834 of the bill. The legislation also includes $250 million for Head Start providers to ensure they are able to continue to safely serve low-income children and families throughout the pandemic.
  • $7 billion for broadband. This legislation includes $3.2 billion in emergency funds for low-income families to access broadband through an FCC fund. Additionally, there is a new $1 billion tribal broadband fund. Included is $250 million dollars in telehealth funding and $65 million to complete the broadband maps in order for the government to effectively disperse funding to the areas that need it most.
  • Coronavirus Relief Fund Extension. The bill extends the availability by one year (until Dec. 31, 2021) for funds provided to states and localities by the Coronavirus Relief Fund in the CARES Act. State and local governments have used these funds for school-age child care in some instances.
  • Provides increased funding for school and child care meal programs. The bill also improves the Pandemic-EBT program, which provides additional nutrition benefits for families with children who are eligible for free school lunches to help cover the cost of meals children would have otherwise received at school. The bill also provides emergency funding to support the Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP) child care providers and sponsors services and the School Nutrition Programs by replacing 55 percent of the total reimbursement funding lost for each claiming month from April 2020 to June 2020 plus half of March 2020.
  • Extension of Paid Leave Credits: The bill extends the refundable payroll tax credits for paid sick and family leave that were established in the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, through March 31, 2021. The bill also allows self-employed individuals to use their average daily self-employment income from 2019, rather than 2020, for purposes of computing these credits.
  • Extension of Charitable Giving Incentives: The bill includes a one-year extension of the $300 above-the-line-deduction, which was established in the CARES Act and set to expire the end of this year. It also increases the amount for 2021 that married couples filing jointly can deduct for charitable contributions, from $300 to $600. This will continue to incentivize individuals who do not itemize to support charitable organizations during this crisis. Additionally, the bill extends through the end of 2021 the increased limits on deductible charitable contributions for companies and taxpayers who itemize.

FY 2021 spending bill: afterschool funding increased

The previously unreleased FY 2021 omnibus spending bill provides funding for federal programs including education, health and human services, and more through the end of the current federal fiscal year, September 30, 2021. The final bill language provides $1.26 billion for local afterschool and summer learning programs, which will provide quality out of school programming for approximately 1.3 million students. This is an increase of about $10 million over last year’s funding level and brings afterschool funding to an all-time high, a testament to the strong outcomes of Nita M. Lowey 21st Century Community Learning Center programs across our nation.

Specific funding levels for education programs that support afterschool and summer include:

  • The Nita M. Lowey 21st Century Community Learning Centers is funded at allocated $1.26 billion, about $10 million above the 2020 enacted level. The president’s FY 2021 budget had proposed to eliminate this program. 
  • Title I Grants to Local Education Agencies: $16.536 billion, an increase of $227 million above the 2020 enacted level. Title I provides basic and flexible funding to low-income school districts to improve student outcomes. Schools are able to spend Title I funds on afterschool and summer learning programs.
  • Title II-A Funds for Teacher Professional Development $2.143 billion, an increase of $11 million over the 2020 enacted level. The president’s budget had proposed to eliminate this program.
  • Title IV Full Service Community Schools: $30 million, an increase of $5 million, to provide comprehensive services and expand evidence-based models that meet the holistic needs of children, families, and communities.
  • Title IV Student Support and Academic Enrichment Grants: $1.220 billion, an increase of $10 million above the 2020 enacted level. The president’s budget proposed to eliminate this program. These funds for school districts established under ESSA support activities that provide students with a well-rounded education, ensure safe and supportive learning environments, and use technology to improve instruction. Allowable uses for the grant include support for afterschool STEM activities. 
  • Child Care Access Means Parents in School: $55 million, an increase of $2 million above the 2020 enacted level.
  • TRIO and GEAR UP: $1.097 billion for Federal TRIO programs, an increase of $7 million above the 2020 enacted level. Additionally, $368 million for GEAR UP, an increase of $3 million above the 2020 enacted level.
  • Federal Work Study: $1.190 billion, an increase of $10 million above the 2020 enacted level. Federal Work Study can be used to support college students working in community-based afterschool programs.
  • Education, Innovation, and Research: $194 million, an increase of $4 million above the 2020 enacted level. $67 million of EIR funds are dedicated for STEM education. Also includes $67 million within this program for grants for evidence-based, field-initiated innovations that address student social and emotional learning needs is included. 
  • Career, Technical Education (CTE): $1.334 billion, an increase of $52 million for the Perkins V CTE program. 

And in the Department of Health and Human Services and other agencies:

  • Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG): $5.911 billion, an increase of $85 million; in addition to supporting child care for children ages birth through five, the CCDBG funds afterschool programs for just under one million school-age children.
  • Mental health resources for children and youth including $107 million for Project AWARE, an increase of $5 million.
  • Community Services Block Grant: $745 million, an increase of $5 million. 
  • Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS): $1.121 billion, an increase of $16 million above the 2020 enacted level. The president’s budget proposed to eliminate CNCS. CNCS supports AmeriCorps and VISTA that are a key asset for hundreds of afterschool programs.
  • Youth Mentoring: $100 million for FY 2021 to support mentoring programs including those provided through afterschool programs, and increase of $3 million for FY 2020.
  • CDC School Health: $15.4 million for activities that include comprehensive school health grants to states that address schools and well as out of school time.
  • Career Pathways for Youth Grants: The agreement continues to provide $10 million to utilize the demonstration grant authority under the dislocated worker national reserve for grants to support national out-of-school-time organizations that serve youth and teens and place an emphasis on age-appropriate workforce readiness programming to expand job training and workforce pathways for youth and disconnected youth, including soft skill development, career exploration, job readiness and certification, summer jobs, year-round job opportunities, and apprenticeships. Funding will also support partnerships between workforce investment boards and youth-serving organizations.

As stated above, both the COVID-19 relief bill and the FY 2021 omnibus spending bill have been sent to the president for his signature which is expected to happen before December 25. With regard to next steps, state and local afterschool advocates can again make a similar case to that made in early summer around the CARES Act Governor Emergency Education Relief (GEER) and Child Care funds by reaching out to Governors and SEAs. Once the new bill is signed into law, the Department of Education, Health and Human Services, and other lead agencies will have 30 days to prepare for states to be able to apply for and access the new relief funds. From a state and local perspective, advocates should consider outreach to SEAs and Governors in early to mid-January. Previously developed template letters and outreach resources are being updated to reflect the new legislation.

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BY: Maria Rizo      07/26/21

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This week the House of Representatives continues the FY 2022 appropriations process with multiple subcommittee mark-ups. On July 12 the House of Representatives’ Labor, Health and Human Services, Education (LHHS-ED) and Related Agencies Appropriations Subcommittee will mark up its FY 2022...

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State child care stabilization grants open with many afterschool programs eligible

As the afterschool field continues to navigate the American Rescue Plan (ARP) opportunities for K-12 funding through the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Funds (ESSER) at the state and local level, ARP also designated $24 billion in child care funding to states to help stabilize the...

BY: Jillian Luchner      11/18/21

ARP ESSER state plans are in! More funds are hitting the ground at the state and local level

With the 2021-2022 school year in full-swing, the federal American Rescue Plan relief funds are making important impacts in states and communities. At this point, all 50 states have submitted their Elementary and Secondary Emergency Relief Fund (ESSER) plans. The Department of Education is...

BY: Jillian Luchner      11/11/21

49 states, D.C., and Puerto Rico submitted ARP state plans, 37 approved (Part 4)

As summer officially turned to fall this month, almost all states, plus Washington, D.C. and Puerto Rico, have now submitted their proposed state plans for the use of American Rescue Plan (ARP) Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER III) Funds to the US Department of Education, and...

BY: Erik Peterson      10/01/21

New learning loss recovery guidance and survey data suggest strong role for afterschool

Last week, as students across the country continued to return to in-person learning, new survey data released from AASA – The School Superintendents Association, as well as additional guidance on learning loss recovery from the US Department of Education, suggests there is more work to be...

BY: Erik Peterson      09/09/21

Virtual Hill Briefing recap: Helping Students Recover and Accelerating Success

On July 20, the House Afterschool Caucus in partnership with the Afterschool Alliance hosted a Capitol Hill Briefing Helping Students Recover and Accelerating Success for congressional staff and afterschool stakeholders. With a proven track record for increasing resilience, supporting positive...

BY: Maria Rizo      07/22/21

Approaches to supporting afterschool and summer in state plans for education relief spending (Part 2)

An advantage of a country made of states, territories, and tribal lands is the amount of innovation across boundaries that can help us learn from one another. This blog is the second in a series on the state American Rescue Plan (ARP) Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER)...

BY: Jillian Luchner      07/16/21

State ARP plans: Supporting afterschool and summer enrichment (Part 1)

It has been more than one month since state education agencies were asked to submit their proposed state plans for the use of American Rescue Plan (ARP) Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER III) Funds to the US Department of Education. To date, the Department has posted state...

BY: Erik Peterson      07/09/21

Draft Child Care Plans for 2022-24 boast strong examples of school-age policy

It’s already July! And that means state’s Child Care Development Fund (CCDF) plans for 2022-2024 have been submitted to the Office of Child Care to meet the July 1 deadline. The plans, which will now be reviewed by the Office of Child Care, go into effect October 1 of this year. These...

BY: Jillian Luchner      07/01/21

Child Care Stabilization Grant Program guidance offers many school-age opportunities

On Monday, May 10 the Office of Child Care issued guidance on the $24 billion in funding for the Child Care Stabilization Grant Program created in the American Rescue Plan (ARP) Act of 2021. Funds are given to state agencies using the Child Care Development Fund (CCDF) formula and state allocations...

BY: Jillian Luchner      05/27/21

Largest influx of Child Care Development funds in history available for school-age care

The Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG)  provides funding for low-income families in the workforce to have access to quality, accessible child care for their children ages 0-13. The American Rescue Plan (ARP), in recognition of the important role of child care for American...

BY: Jillian Luchner      03/24/21

What could the Build Back Better Act mean for afterschool and summer learning?

This week the House of Representatives finished work at the Committee level on the Build Back Better Act legislation that invests in programs that support human infrastructure and includes parts of President Biden’s American Jobs Plan and American Families Plan. The bill is progressing on...

BY: Erik Peterson      09/17/21

Appropriations, budget resolutions, and infrastructure—oh my!

Historically the month of August is a slow one in Washington, D.C., with Congress taking off for a summer break. While the House and Senate are now in a recess for a several weeks, that break did not come before a frenzy of legislative work that is worthy of a recap. In late July, before...

BY: Erik Peterson      08/16/21

American Rescue Plan ESSER III afterschool and summer implementation update: States efforts, new tools, and more

Since President Biden signed the American Rescue Plan (ARP) into law on March 11, 2021, state education agencies (SEAs) have been working to maximize the impact of the $122 billion in federal education funds to support students impacted by the pandemic.  While SEAs have until June 7, 2021, to...

BY: Erik Peterson      06/01/21

Biden administration releases full FY 2022 budget proposal, increases afterschool funding

On May 28, the Biden administration released its full FY 2022 discretionary budget request, about six weeks after releasing an initial budget blueprint. With regard to education, the proposal includes $1.31 billion for the Nita M. Lowey 21st Century Community Learning Centers, an increase of $52...

BY: Erik Peterson      05/28/21

The Biden administration’s American Family Plan – what it means for afterschool

In late April, President Joe Biden released the American Families Plan, the second part of an overall infrastructure proposal and a complementary piece to the American Jobs Plan. Congress is now holding bipartisan conversations to identify infrastructure priorities. The American Families...

BY: Erik Peterson      05/07/21

President Biden offers FY 2022 budget proposal

On April 9, the Biden administration released their preliminary (or “skinny”) FY 2022 discretionary budget request which includes topline appropriations levels for each agency as well as key spending priorities. With regard to education, the proposal includes historic funding requests...

BY: Erik Peterson      04/13/21

Biden administration proposes infrastructure plan including funds for schools, child care

In late March the administration announced the first part of its Build Back Better infrastructure plan. Called the American Jobs Plan, it would invest more than $200 billion in education and education-related infrastructure, including $100 billion for school construction and modernization, $12...

BY: Erik Peterson      04/12/21

American Rescue Plan: How will the funds flow? What do I need to do?

The American Rescue Plan provides $500 billion that can be used in part to support young people during the hours they are out of school. Funds specifically available for afterschool and summer programs in the Plan include:  $8.45B available from SEAs, including:  $1.22B...

BY: Erik Peterson      03/12/21

President Biden proposes American Rescue Plan including education funding

On Thursday, January 15, President-elect Biden proposed a $1.9 trillion COVID relief package called the American Rescue Plan which is described as “…the first step of an aggressive, two-step plan” to “change the course of the pandemic, build a bridge towards economic...

BY: Erik Peterson      01/20/21

President-elect Biden nominates Connecticut Education Commissioner Cardona for Sec. of Education

This week U.S. President-elect Joe Biden selected Connecticut education commissioner Miguel Cardona to serve as secretary of education. Commissioner Cardona is a former fourth-grade public school teacher who became the youngest principal in Connecticut and, later, an assistant superintendent of...

BY: Erik Peterson      12/23/20