Washington, DC – On Tuesday, U.S. Senators Joe Manchin (D-WV), Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) introduced the bipartisan Emergency Family Stabilization Act. This legislation would create a new emergency funding stream overseen by the Administration for Children and Families within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to provide flexible funding for community-based organizations working to meet the unique and challenging needs of children, youth, and families experiencing homelessness. Specifically, the bill aims to provide emergency funding to underserved populations and areas, including in rural and tribal communities, who continue to see long-term repercussions of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Every child deserves a roof over their head and a safe place to sleep but unfortunately, this is not the case today. The COVID-19 pandemic has only made this problem worse due to high unemployment, unstable living conditions, and job insecurity. Recent research has also found the lack of resources in rural areas of America – like West Virginia – create additional burdens for children and youth experiencing homelessness. The Emergency Family Stabilization Act would help address this issue by dedicating emergency funding to help our children, youth, and families experiencing homelessness during the COVID-19 pandemic. I am working with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to include this bipartisan, commonsense legislation in the next COVID-19 relief package,” said Senator Manchin.
“Children’s Home Society of West Virginia, in our work with West Virginia children, youth and families, knows well the plight of many families and children, suffering under the dual crisis of the COVID 19 pandemic, and on-going vulnerability, instability of housing, trauma they experience. We toil daily to help children and family in our state. We wholeheartedly support the Emergency Family Stabilization Act that is being introduced in the 117th Congress. It will provide very effective supports and services to address many of the needs and issues facing children and families and youth experiencing homelessness and the related traumas. We applaud the vision and research by the bipartisan sponsors of the Act. It provides a much needed boost to those suffering during the pandemic,” said Steve Tuck, CEO of the Children’s Home Society of West Virginia.
“West Virginia’s youth are experiencing crises on a level that is historic in proportions. Poverty, lack of jobs, lack of recreation and opportunities for positive development, and the erosion of communities that is inevitable in times of crisis are ripping families, and subsequently the lives of their members apart, one person, one youth at a time. In this environment, communities become fertile ground for substance use and sales, crime, abuse, trafficking, and a spiral of people who once held one another up in times of need now victimizing and taking advantage of one another. In the work of the WV Coalition to End Homelessness (WVCEH), staff and partners have seen time and again, the need for an immediate, kinetic response to the issues that affect the youth of WV. We believe that youth homelessness can be ended in WV and are eager to see this happen soon,” said Zach Brown, CEO of WVF Coalition to End Homelessness.
“Homelessness is a traumatic experience, especially for children. Housing instability and parental stress over finances put children at a higher risk of maltreatment. West Virginia’s child advocacy centers coordinate the local response to allegations of child abuse and neglect, and we are seeing a drastically increased need for basic support for families living on the edge – including rent support, utility payments, food, and hygiene products. By introducing this bill, Senator Manchin is demonstrating the compassion and foresight we need from our lawmakers to reduce trauma and adverse childhood experiences during this uniquely challenging time,” said Kate Flack, CEO of West Virginia Child Advocacy Network.
Original cosponsors of the legislation include U.S. Senators Susan Collins (R-ME), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Brian Schatz (D-HI), Maggie Hassan (D-NH), Dan Sullivan (R-AK), and Mark Kelly (D-AZ). Companion legislation will soon be introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives by Representatives John Yarmuth (D-KY-3) and Don Bacon (R-NE-2).
The Emergency Family Stabilization Act will:
- Create a new emergency funding stream through the Administration for Children and Families (ACF) within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, for local agencies that currently receive ACF grants, or have experience in serving children, families, and unaccompanied youth experiencing homelessness.
- Provide $800 million in direct flexible funding to meet the unique needs of children, youth, and families experiencing homelessness in the wake of the coronavirus.
- Give special consideration to programs serving families and youth who face barriers in accessing homeless services, as well as 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, and historically marginalized and underserved communities of color.
- Permit funds to be used for a wide range of emergency housing, health, education, and safety-related activities, including but not limited to: purchasing PPE, food, hygiene supplies, mental health services, transportation services, emergency child care, communications and connectivity needs, education, training and employment-related needs, eviction prevention, motel stays, assistance in seeking housing placements, assistance in accessing unemployment and other federal benefits.
- Set aside specific funding for tribes, tribal organizations, Native Hawaiian organizations and ensures funds are distributed to urban, rural, and suburban areas.
Fact sheet on the Emergency Family Stabilization Act can be found here.
Bill text can be found here.
Timeline of Senator Manchin’s work to address homelessness can be found here.
This legislation is supported by the following West Virginia organizations: Child Protect, Child & Youth Advocacy Center, Florence Crittenton Services, Inc., Harmony House CAC, Harrison County CAC, Just for Kids, Logan-Mingo CAC, Monongalia County CAC, Randolph-Tucker CAC, REACHH CAC, Safe Haven CAC, Sarah’s House, Team for West Virginia Children, The Lighthouse CAC, Think Kids, Tri-County CAC, The Children’s Listening Place, Women & Children’s Hospital CAC, National Association for Social Workers – West Virginia Chapter, West Virginia Child Advocacy Network, West Virginia Behavioral Healthcare Providers Association, West Virginia Child Care Association, West Virginia Primary Care Association, West Virginia Infant/Toddler Mental Health Association, West Virginia Parent Training and Information, Inc., West Virginia Children’s Home Society, WV Coalition to End Homelessness, and the West Virginia Head Start Association.
This legislation is supported by the following national organizations: A New Path, A Way Home America, American Association of School Superintendents – AASA, Alliance for Excellent Education, Alliance for Period Supplies, Alliance to End Slavery and Trafficking – ATEST, American Art Therapy Association, American Federation of School Administrators, American Federation of Teachers, American Medical Student Association, American School Counselor Association, Bethany Christian Services, Campaign for Trauma-Informed Policy and Practice, Child Care Services Association, Child Welfare League of America, Children’s Health Fund, Children’s Home Society of America, Coalition to Abolish Slavery and Trafficking, Covenant House International, Family Focused Treatment Association, Family Promise, First Focus Campaign for Children, Foster Club, Low Income Investment Fund, National Alliance for Hispanic Health, National Alliance to End Homelessness, National Association of Elementary School Principals, National Association for Children’s Behavioral Health, National Association of Counsel for Children, National Association of School Psychologists, National Association of Secondary School Principals, National Center for Housing & Child Welfare, National Children’s Alliance, National Community Action Fund, National Crittenton, National Diaper Bank Network, National Education Association, National Head Start Association, National Indigenous Women’s Resource Center, National League of Cities, National Network for Youth, National Runaway Safeline, National Safe Place Network, Polaris, Psychotherapy Action Network, Rights4Girls, Safe Horizon, SchoolHouse Connection, StandUp for Kids, Strategies for Youth, The Forum on Youth Investment, The McCain Institute for International Leadership, The Next 100, Third Way, Vital Voices, Youth Homes of Mid-America, YouthBuild USA, Zero To Three.