The Emergency Family Stabilization Act (Federal Legislation)

Published on August 12, 2020

This past Friday, August 7, U.S. Representatives John Yarmuth (D-KY), Don Bacon (R-NE), Danny K. Davis (D-IL), and Don Young (R-AK) introduced the bipartisan Emergency Family Stabilization Act, H.R. 7950 (EFSA). This legislation provides flexible funding directly to community-based organizations to meet the needs of children, families, and unaccompanied youth who are experiencing homelessness during the COVID-19 pandemic. Funds may be used for a wide range of housing, health, education, and safety-related activities.

The House bill introduced today is the companion bill to S. 3923, introduced in the U.S. Senate on June 10 by U.S. Senators Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), Joe Manchin (D-WV), Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ), and Susan Collins (R-ME).
The House version of EFSA contains the following additions:
  • Provides $2 billion in flexible funding directly to community agencies (including local educational agencies) to respond to the emergency needs of children, youth, and families experiencing homelessness in the wake of the coronavirus, using the broader definition of homelessness. (The Senate bill provides $800 million.)
  • Ensures that at least one agency in each state receives a grant.
  • Provides that in awarding grants, special consideration is given to meeting the needs of pregnant women, pregnant and parenting youth, children under age 6, children with disabilities, families experiencing domestic violence, survivors of sexual assault or human trafficking, LGBTQIA individuals, and racial and ethnic minority populations.
  • Requires the agency that administers the funds – the Administration of Children and Families (ACF) at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) — to submit a Report to Congress summarizing data gathered from grantees.

The California Coalition for Youth’s Key Takeaways

  • The bill would offer grants to ‘Family Stabilization Agencies’ through the Office of Community Services (OCS) of the US Department of Health & Human Services (HHS). The OCS administers the Community Services Block Grant and the Social Services Block Grant, among other programs.
  • It is intended to support COVID-related needs and, if enacted, 80% of the money would be awarded to existing ACF grantees within 45 days.
  • As the legislation is currently written, the allowable expenses are extremely permissive as almost anything could be procured.
“Family Stabilization Agencies” would be limited to:
  • Existing ACF grant or subgrant recipients;
  • Indian or Tribal Organization;
  • Urban Indian Organization;
  • Local Education Agency; or
  • A local public, private, or Indian nonprofit (including culturally specific and faith/community -based) that have demonstrated expertise providing direct services to one or more of the following:
·        Children under 6 experiencing homelessness;
·        Unaccompanied youth under 18 experiencing homelessness;
·        Unaccompanied transition aged youth (between 18-24) experiencing homelessness;
·        Families experiencing homelessness;
·        Survivors of dating or domestic violence
Grants are to be awarded no more than 45 days after enactment for current ACF grantees, and 130 days for not current grantees.
  • Not less than 10% to Tribal entities;
  • 36% to rural; and
  • 30% to suburban;
  • Not more than 24% to urban;
  • Every state gets at least one award.
Authorized Activities:
  • Provision of personnel directly or with a community partner;
  • Provision of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE);
  • Payments to meet shelter and housing-related needs to support safety and health (security depositis, evictioni prevention, utility, motel/hotel, housing placement, records expungement, and other assistance.)
  • Provision of food and food prep items;
  • Provision of medical and dental services, including preventative care;
  • Clothing;
  • Internet and telecommunications connectivity;
  • Education and employment needs including academic support, distance learning, social and emotional supports, career and tech education, and more.
  • Provision of store cards, gift cards, prepaid debit cards;
  • Mentorship services and coordination;
  • Services and support for pregnant and parenting youth;
  • Provision of services and support for unaccompanied youth
  • Provision of services and support for victims of domestic abuse;
  • Assistance in accessing stimulus checks;
  • Provision of services and support to prevent child abuse and neglect
  • Provision of culturally specific services and supports;
  • Provision of extraordinary or emergency assistance to promote the safety and self-sufficiency of youth, children and families experiencing homelessness; and
  • Any other purposes determined by the Secretary.
Please note that in the authorized $2 billion appropriations, there is no mention of the size of awards to individual Family Stabilization Agencies.

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