Washington, D.C. – As COVID-19 cases surge across the country, the economic repercussions of this crisis have left children, families and communities reeling at the same time that it magnifies long-standing racial and economic disparities. The Senate returned to work last week promising to act on additional COVID-19 relief legislation that their Republican leadership said would be focused on “making sure we take care of our kids.” But the legislation they proposed this week for the next round of relief falls far short of the meeting the needs of children and families in this country.
“The HEALS Act does not come close to prioritizing the unique and urgent needs of our nation’s children. For more than two months the Senate has failed to take any meaningful action to bring relief to the millions of children and families who are suffering. As the devastation from this economic and public health crisis only continues to grow, disproportionately taking the lives and livelihoods of Black families, Latinx families and other families of color, it is clear that children and families need additional support and this proposal does not come close to doing that,” said Kathleen King, Interim Policy Director. “The needs of our nation’s most vulnerable children—children of color, immigrant children, poor children and children in the child welfare system—must remain the top priority.”
“This so-called COVID relief package is a slap in the face for families and children living in poverty and will do harm to communities of color all across this nation,” said Emma Mehrabi, Director of Poverty Policy. “This proposal fails to help families meet their basic needs to survive, especially at a time when child hunger and housing insecurity is on the rise. It provides zero boost to SNAP or Pandemic EBT, but doubles the business meal tax deduction for wealthy CEOs. It does nothing to extend the expiring eviction moratorium or provide the $100 billion needed for rental assistance and rising homelessness. The bill is also shamefully silent on the Child Tax Credit (CTC) and the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC), critical measures to help reduce poverty and provide much needed assistance. And while Republicans may try to claim a win on another round of cash payments, the lack of inclusion of immigrant families, those who are underbanked, parity for children, and larger, recurring payments is yet another failure to help meet the needs of families and children who desperately need assistance now to reduce rising child poverty, hunger and racial disparities.”
“This package also fails to meet the needs of our nation’s most vulnerable children and families in, or at risk of entering, the child welfare system, who continue to be ignored by Congress, placing many children at risk of entering foster care,” said Stefanie Sprow, Director of Child Welfare Policy. “Our already strained child welfare system needs emergency investments to support and strengthen families that are suffering unprecedented stress and challenges, while also providing the system with the tools needed to help those already in the system. We have a moral obligation to protect these children and families and it is inexcusable that Congress continues to leave them behind.”
The unique and urgent needs of children must be a priority in Congress’ ongoing efforts to support the American people through this pandemic. We cannot allow this crisis to continue to exacerbate existing disparities and hit our most vulnerable children the hardest. CDF urges the Senate to immediately move forward additional COVID-19 legislation, including the many critical provisions for children and families that have already been passed by the House, as well as additional measures to get children and families the assistance they desperately need and start to address growing racial disparities in our country.