Part One: State Policy Recommendations for Implementation of the CARES Act
The bipartisan Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act passed by Congress on March 27, 2020 includes provisions that address the needs of young children, families, the child care sector, and the early childhood workforce as they struggle with the effects of COVID-19.
Governors and state leaders should take quick and decisive action to ensure that early childhood providers can access the CARES Act funding during this time of great need. In addition to addressing immediate needs, governors should also look to build resiliency into their early childhood education system and workforce so that it is better equipped to stand up to future disruptions.
The Ounce of Prevention Fund has developed the following policy recommendations that partners and advocates can share with governors and state leaders to maximize the impact of key provisions of the CARES Act as they are implemented.
Governors should take immediate action to provide resources and support so that child care providers and social service agencies can access the CARE Act funds allocated to support small businesses.
We urge governors to:
- Provide resources to their state’s trusted, existing technical assistance providers—such as Child Care Resource and Referral (CCR&R) agencies—to deliver technical assistance for the early childhood field specifically to access small business supports.
- Connect with Early Interventionists, family child care providers and other independent contractors to ensure they can access unemployment insurance and the other small business supports included in the CARES Act.
- Pursue partnerships with philanthropy and the private sector—particularly local organizations, such as United Ways and Community Foundations—to support child care providers and other social service agencies with targeted technical assistance to increase access.
- Create intentional pathways and timelines that help all small businesses—including early childhood providers—make smart decisions about which fund sources they pursue.
Governors should ensure that emergency support grants allocated to Local Educational Agencies (LEAs) through the CARE Act’s Education Stabilization Fund are maximized to support our earliest learners. The Ounce encourages governors to:
- Think broadly of what Early Childhood Education services could be offered or supported by LEAs and include holistic language that does not preclude LEAs from using the funding to support children from ages birth to age five in their district.
- Ensure that any technology resources provided to students to support distance learning, such as devices and connectivity, can be leveraged to help all family members access critical resources, information, and learning activities. This includes those offered by the early childhood system, such as through Home Visiting and Early Intervention.
- Consider how funding for LEAs might intentionally reach and support young children in foster care, children experiencing homelessness, and other populations that might have been disproportionately impacted by COVID-19.
- Neither request nor allow LEAs to waive Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) requirements that ensure all students have access to effective instruction, particularly those designed to protect students with disabilities and developmental delays.
We applaud the heroic work of nation’s governors during this difficult time and ask that state leaders seize this opportunity to equitably distribute funds across the early childhood sector to maximize impact both now and in the future.
Look for a second set of policy recommendations later this week that will focus on actions state agency leaders can take to directly support young children and their families.