The House-passed HEROES Act adopted by the House on May 15, 2020, includes significant funding under the Social Services Block Grant (SSBG) that would help state and local governments address current budgetary shortfalls.
SSBG has always been a significant funder of a range of child welfare services, including foster care, youth services, child protection, prevention services, counseling, and case management that help families in contact with child welfare agencies. It has also been a significant funding source for domestic violence services. Under the House, legislation states could continue to use funds in this way.
During past national disasters such as Hurricane Katrina and Hurricane Wilma, it was used to supplement the shortfalls of any Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) funding while being targeted to states most directly hit. The House HEROES Act uses SSBG to help supplement state and local governments in addition to the other relief measures in the legislation. It includes $850 million paid for through SSBG for child care needs for essential workers, which is intended as care services more flexible in terms of income eligibility requirements and the forms of care provided.
The more substantial relief through SSBG includes an additional $9.6 billion targeting disadvantaged communities and populations with half of the dollars going directly to local governments and community-based organizations. Under the provisions for the first time, SSBG funding is extended to Tribal communities with the intention of providing $400 million of the $9.6 billion for Tribal communities and governments. At the same time, half of the $9.6 billion is passed through to local governments or organizations.
SSBG funds can be used for administering emergency services; providing short-term cash, non-cash, or in-kind emergency disaster relief; providing services with demonstrated need in accordance with objective criteria that are made available to the public; operational costs directly related to providing these services; local government emergency social service operations; and providing emergency social services to rural and frontier communities that may not have access to other emergency funding streams.
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