The COVID-19 pandemic has had a life-altering impact on daily routines throughout the world. While we navigate the personal and professional challenges this crisis brings, the work of advocating for children and their families never stops. Here’s just some of the things the Ahlquist Center has been advocating for in response to COVID-19:
Relief for Non-Profits
It is critically important that the federal government supports the non-profit industry broadly, and child care in particular. We joined with over 600 partner organizations to ask that the federal government make resources available so these crucial industries could survive in this climate. Many of these requests were reflected in the CARES Act, which was signed into law on March 27th. The legislation includes access to billions of dollars in loans for non-profits, an additional $3.5 billion for the Child Care Development Block Program, and an additional $750 million in Head Start funding for COVID-19.
Meet the Need of Children and Families in the Child Welfare System
We know there is an increased risk of children experiencing abuse and neglect in times of economic stress, so it is critical to provide child welfare organizations the funding they need to handle the additional caseload. We joined the Children Defense Fund to call on Congress to increase funding to child welfare programs to provide the tools and funding needed to handle this crisis. The letter requests $1 billion for community-based child abuse prevention grants, $1 billion for promoting safe and stable families, among other policy changes to help families navigate this uncertain time.
Protect Youth in Care Who Will Age Out Soon
There is work in Illinois to be done as well. Along with more than 20 child welfare advocates, we sent a letter to Governor Pritzker and DCFS Director Mark Smith to take steps to protect youths who have recently left care or were scheduled to leave care in the next few months. On Monday, March 31st, DCFS agreed to the request, expanding foster services for those set to leave foster care, and allowing former youth in care to continue their current living arrangements until June.
Strengthen the Illinois Human Services Sector
As we move into a likely recession, we know that the people of Illinois will need more services and support. And we keenly remember how devastating funding cuts were during the budget impasse. That’s why we joined other human services advocates to call on Governor Pritzker and legislative leaders to make protecting human services in the upcoming budget a top priority.
Ensuring Families Have Access to Phone & Internet Service
Now more than ever, we realize how crucial phone and internet connectivity are to our everyday lives. Lifeline provides low cost phone and internet services to families. With over 250 advocates throughout the country, we asked the FCC to stop disconnecting Lifeline subscribers, eliminate minute limits, and create an emergency benefit for broadband service. The FCC responded on March 30th, agreeing to not involuntarily disenroll any subscribers for the next two months.
Additional Funding to Support Home Visiting Programs
And our work continues. We’re joining early childhood organizations throughout the country, requesting an emergency $100 million appropriation for the Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Visiting Program for material client needs as well as training home visitors on how to connect with their clients virtually. If you are interested in joining us, please click here to email your representatives in Congress.
For more details on our advocacy efforts, contact Eric Mayo, Public Policy Manager at email@example.com