Federal News: COVID-19 Response

THE FAMILIES FIRST CORONAVIRUS RESPONSE ACT 

We want to keep you informed on foster parent employment as we are aware many of your families are experiencing hardships and uncertainties during this time. The Families First Coronavirus Response Act  includes an emergency paid leave benefit that would be available to foster parents who had to stay home as a result of school closure. See details below on current benefits that would pay salaries with a maximum monthly benefit. On March 16th, 2020 the U.S. House of Representatives passed technical corrections to H.R. 6201, the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA). The revised bill is a rewrite of the original bill containing the Emergency Family and Medical Leave Expansion Act and the Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act. The FFCRA was signed on March 18th by President Trump- and it will be effective on APril 2nd and sunset on December 31, 2020.

Employees will also be eligible for leave at a reduced rate to care for a family member or for the care of a child whose school has closed. Congress is likely to delve into a third coronavirus bill that would focus beyond this immediate deal. The next package will likely target some of the hardest-hit industries and small businesses, targeted tax refunds to more general populations to put dollars back into the economy, and targeted human services relief to programs not addressed in this package.

The current version of the bill:

- Limits the amount of paid sick leave to 80 hours or a 2-week period for part-time workers for:

       -leave due to the employees own illness or quarantine (maximum of $511 per day or $5,110 in the aggregate); or
       -care for another individual who is sick or quarantined, or time need due to a school or child care closure (maximum of $200 per day or $2000 in the aggregate)

- Limits the amount of paid family leave to 12 weeks (with the first 10 days unpaid) at 2/3 of their regular rate of pay, up to $200 per day ($10,000 in the aggregate), and restricts the purpose to leave for a school or child care closure.


FEDERAL STIMULUS BILL - CARES ACT HIGHLIGHTS

This bill was signed by the President on March 27th and is the largest relief bill ever passed in the U.S at approximately $2.2 trillion. 

  • Changes to New Paid Sick Leave Mandates. Lowers the amount that employers must pay for paid sick and family leave under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act that was enacted last week to the amounts covered by the refundable payroll tax credit (i.e. $511 per day for sick leave or $200 per day for family leave). 

  • Medicaid Exclusion Successfully Removed. If you were on the TACFS all member call on Tuesday you heard that there was originally a provision in the legislation that would have prohibited any nonprofit that receives or is eligible for Medicaid reimbursement from getting access to these critical loans. Luckily it was removed! 

  • Small Business Loans for 500 or less employees. Provides funding for special emergency loans of up to $10 million for eligible nonprofits to cover payroll, operations, debt services, etc. Loans can be forgiven, in whole, for organizations that maintain employment from March 1-June 30, essentially turning the loan into a grant. Loans can cover payroll and associated costs, health insurance premiums, facilities costs, and debt service. 

  • Loans Disbursed through Any Government-Backed Lender. An application through SBA is not necessary. Any major lenders should be able to start making loans within one to two weeks of final passage of the bill. 

  • Access to SBA Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDL). These grants are available now, and the CARES bill adds more money into them. Nonprofits and other eligible applicants can get checks for $10,000 within three days (and eventually up to $2 million in loans). The CARES Act eliminates creditworthiness requirements and appropriates an additional $10 billion into the program. Most likely, organizations cannot participate in both EIDL and SBA 7a and will have to choose one or the other

  • Access to Loans for organizations with 500-10,000 employees. New loans were added for mid-size nonprofits which would provide loans with a two percent interest rate to organizations with 500-10,000 employees. The funds received must be used to retain at least 90 percent of the recipient's workforce, with full compensation and benefits, through Sept 30, 2020. The loans would not accrue interest or require any payments for the first six months.

  • Charitable Giving. Allows for a $300 above-the-line tax deduction for charitable giving, eligible to both itemizers and non-itemizers alike. This is not a permanent provision and will expire at the end of tax year 2020. 

  • New Employee Retention Payroll Tax Credit. Creates a refundable payroll tax credit of up to $5,000 for each employee on the payroll when certain conditions are met. Entity needs to prove it has realized a drop in revenue of at least 50 percent in the first quarter of 2020 compared to first quarter 2019. Note that employers receiving emergency SBA 7a loans will NOT be eligible for these tax credits.

  • Direct Payments to Adults & Families. Adults making $99,000 or less (based on 2018 or 2019 tax return) will be eligible for direct payments of $1,200 or less and $500 per child ($3,400 for a family of four), to be sent out in the coming weeks. The amount of payments phases out based on earnings between $75,000 and $99,000


Key Information:  The CARES Act passed by Congress directs payments to lower- and middle-income Americans. Individuals get $1,200, and married couples get $2,400$500 per qualifying child younger than 17. You have until July 15, 2020 to file your 2019 tax return. 
Social Security recipients do not have to apply for the stimulus check, they will also receive it automatically. The schedule for check release will be: 

  • Taxpayers with income up to $10,000: April 24

  • Taxpayers with income up to $20,000: May 1

  • Taxpayers with income up to $40,000: May 15

  • The rest of the checks will be issued by gradually increasing income increments each week. Households earning $198,000 who file jointly will get their reduced checks on September 4. The last group of checks will be sent on Sept. 11 to those who didnt have tax information on file and had to apply for checks.


U.S. Department Of Labor Announces New Paid Sick Leave and Expanded Family and Medical Leave Implementation :the U.S. Department of Labor announced new action regarding how American workers and employers will benefit from the protections and relief offered by the Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act and Emergency Family and Medical Leave Expansion Act, both part of the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA). Read more.

Mission Capitol has created a chart of the various loans nonprofits are eligible to receive that were created due to passage of the federal CARES Act which is the $2 trillion stimulus bill that was signed by the President last week. Click here to view this easy to read chart.

Attention Small Business Owners: Please see this guide from the US Chamber of Commerce with information on eligibility and applying for the federal loans available through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security

The TACFS team is busy analyzing this significant piece of legislation. And see here an info sheet provided by the Department of Labor.  Please reach out to us with any questions, and we will continue to provide you with information as we learn more. 


EXTENDED MEDICAID ACT 

Federal law passed on March 18, 2020, provides financial support for states that agree to extend Medicaid coverage for clients who were enrolled on that date through the end of the COVID-19 emergency. This affects children and families currently served by DFPS, regardless of the stage of service.  
This information is being shared with you as it may be helpful to children and families worried about medical coverage to know of this extension. Medicaid for Permanency Care Assistance (PCA), Adoption Assistance (AA), and Former Foster Care Children (FFCC) will be extended if the age of the youth reaches the end of eligibility during the COVID-19 crisis. Children exiting foster care to AA, PCA, or FFCC will continue to transition as normal. Children exiting foster care to family reunification or permanency with a relative, who would otherwise not automatically transition to other Medicaid coverage, will be provided extended Medicaid eligibility during the COVID-19 emergency.


HHSC is posting updated Medicaid and CHIP COVID-19 information on its COVID-19 client and provider web pages.


CARES ACT 

The Paycheck Protection Program is officially open today and closes June 30, 2020. Applications are accepted on a first come, first serve basis. The federal government is advising borrowers to apply as soon as possible given the loan cap on the program. Please reach out to your financial or legal advisors if you have questions. Highlights of this loan include:

  • Loans to organizations with 500 employees or less

  • Loans can be applied to payroll, health benefits, paid sick and family leave, mortgage interest, rent utilities, debt interest

  • Loan Amount: The lesser of $10 million or 2.5 times the average total monthly payroll (including benefits) costs from the one-year period prior to the date of application.

  • Loans do not cover employees making over $100k a year.

  • Loan has the potential to turn into a grant if funds are used for the purposes outlined above and you meet conditions regarding maintaining employment levels.

  • Sample application is available here.

Additional $310 billion in Paycheck Protection Program Became Available April 27

April 27, the SBA reopened the option for small businesses and nonprofits to submit loan applications for the Paycheck Protection Program. Click here to learn more, and contact your lender ASAP if you have not yet applied and plan on doing so. On Friday, the President signed HR 266 into law which allows for an additional $310 billion for this program, but it will not last long. 

  • $310 billion for the Paycheck Protection Program and small business loans, bringing the total authorized aid to $659 billion;

  • $60 billion for smaller lending facilities, including minority depository institutions, certified development companies and credit unions;

  • $10 billion for grants under the Emergency Economic Injury Disaster Loan program; 

  • $50 billion for disaster recovery loans; 

  • $2.1 billion for additional salaries and expenses for the Small Business Administration;

  • $75 billion for hospitals and health care providers to support for Covid-19 expenses and lost revenue from canceled elective surgeries and other procedures;

  • $25 billion for research to develop, validate, manufacture, purchase and administer Covid-19 tests, including $11 billion for states to expand lab capacity; and

  • $6 million to cover Health and Human Services inspector general oversight.


Save Organizations that Serve America Act (SOS)

On March 27, Reps. Seth Moulton (D-Mass.) and Brian Fitzpatrick (R-Pa.) introduced the Save Organizations that Serve (SOS) America Act, which proposes providing nonprofits on the front lines of this pandemic with: 

  • additional $60 billion in financial support, 

  • eliminating the 500-employee cap on Small Business Administration loans and loan forgiveness for nonprofits, and,

  • improving the above-the-line universal charitable deduction by eliminating the cap and allowing taxpayers to claim deductions for 2019, 2020, and future taxes. 

We will keep you posted on the status of this legislation. Our team is busy discussing additional funding needs with Congressional offices. 

Stimulus Checks for Kinship Caregivers 

Congressman Danny Davis (D-IL) updated a guide for kinship caregivers on COVID-19 stimulus payments last week with several updates from the IRS. If you support kinship families during this time, feel free to utilize the information in this guide

Congress reaches deal on $480 billion package to help small businesses and expand COVID-19 testing

While the final text has not been released publicly, we have been told a new deal has been agreed upon by Congress with support from the President. Once passed by Congress, it should be signed by the President later this week. This new piece of legislation will add: 

  • $310 billion for the Paycheck Protection Program and small business loans, bringing the total authorized aid to $659 billion;

  • $60 billion for smaller lending facilities, including minority depository institutions, certified development companies and credit unions;

  • $10 billion for grants under the Emergency Economic Injury Disaster Loan program; 

  • $50 billion for disaster recovery loans; 

  • $2.1 billion for additional salaries and expenses for the Small Business Administration;

  • $75 billion for hospitals and health care providers to support for Covid-19 expenses and lost revenue from canceled elective surgeries and other procedures;

  • $25 billion for research to develop, validate, manufacture, purchase and administer Covid-19 tests, including $11 billion for states to expand lab capacity; 

  • $6 million to cover Health and Human Services inspector general oversight.


HEROES FUND

Senate Democrats unveiled a "Heroes Fund" on Tuesday, April 7. The legislation would create a federally funded program that would allow a $25,000 premium pay increase for essential workers (equivalent to additional $13 an hour). It would also pay for a $15,000 worker recruitment incentive grant to workers. Employers in industries considered "essential work" would apply to the federal fund for federal dollars to be used to add line-item premium pay to employees' or independent contractors' paychecks. The definition of "essential frontline workers" has not yet been defined.