COVID-19 has upended many parts of our lives and communities, while magnifying the effects of systemic racism and long-standing racial and economic disparities. As a result, Black families and other families of color are disproportionately losing their lives and their livelihoods to this crisis. Existing racial disparities in wealth, income, education, health, nutrition, and housing are only widening as a result of this pandemic, and we must take action now to end these injustices.
In mid-May the House of Representatives passed the HEROES Act, an expansive plan that builds on the groundwork laid by previous coronavirus relief packages and seeks to ease the damaging health and economic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. But Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell refused to take up the House bill, noting he was hitting “pause” on additional COVID-19 legislation until at least July. Meanwhile the needs of our nation’s most vulnerable children—especially Black children and other children of color, immigrant children, and children in the child welfare system—are growing more urgent each day. Because of this crisis, too many children are at risk of going hungry, becoming homeless, or suffering hardship no child should endure, and they need help before it’s too late.
The Senate must immediately move forward additional COVID-19 legislation, including the many critical provisions for children and families as included in the HEROES Act, 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. Tell your Senators that children and families need action now.
Our analysis of the HEROES Act
Important provisions that should be maintained:
- An additional round of direct cash assistance and expanded tax credits for more children and families
- Investments to keep families in safe, stable homes and more funding for families experiencing homelessness
- Additional investments in critical programs to ensure hungry children and families can access the nutritious food they need to survive
- Protections for families who are directly impacted by the virus, including paid sick, family, and medical leave, as well as access to health coverage and care
- Increased funding to states to help ensure Medicaid can continue to act as a powerful first responder for children, families, and communities during the public health crisis
- Provisions that expand many of these critical services and supports to immigrant families
Additional steps needed to protect the children and families who have been—or are at risk of being—left behind:
- Extend robust aid for children and families throughout the economic downturn, including unemployment benefits, nutrition assistance, direct cash payments, and refundable tax credits
- Significantly expand funding for the child welfare system to protect some of our country’s most vulnerable children from abuse and neglect
- Provide critical funding for the child care system
- Ensure more children can get enrolled and stay enrolled in Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP)
- Prioritize children and families with the greatest needs