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State to make $1.1 billion available for child care providers

New York state will make nearly $1.1 billion in federal funding available for child care providers to help stabilize the industry and enable more parents to return to the workplace full time.

The funding, available through the American Rescue Plan Act and the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act, is the largest single investment in child care in the state’s history. It will provide direct support to child care providers and help replenish losses from the pandemic.

“We can’t have a full economic recovery without boosting affordable and quality child care services for New York families, particularly working women who have been disproportionately set back by the pandemic,” said Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul in a statement. “This funding provides critical support for child care providers who have suffered during the pandemic. Child care workers have courageously shown up to allow frontline workers to go to work, and we need to have their back now more than ever.”

Eligible providers include OCFS-licensed or registered programs, permitted New York City daycare centers and legally exempt group programs that are enrolled with an enrollment agency. To be eligible, the programs must have been open and serving children in person as of March 11, 2021, and open and available to provide in-person services on the date they apply for the grant. This includes child care providers that are open and staffed to provide in-person care even if there are no children currently enrolled. Programs that are not providing services on the date of application may also be eligible for this grant if the program closed temporarily due to public health, financial hardship or other reasons relating to the COVID-19, and attest that they will begin serving children within a specified timeframe.

“The pandemic has shone a spotlight on the critical role child care plays in supporting children, families and businesses. Throughout the pandemic, some child care programs remained open to serve the families of essential workers who could not stay home. As more people return to work, child care is foundational to reopening our state’s economy,” said OCFS Commissioner Sheila Poole.

OCFS will award more than $10 million in technical assistance funds to 35 child care resource and referral agencies and other key stakeholders to support child care providers in accessing and implementing the stabilization grants.

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FLPPS awarded $1 million grant for COVID vaccination hubs

The Finger Lakes Performing Provider System (FLPPS) has been awarded a $1 million grant to support regional community-based efforts to increase COVID-19 vaccinations in underserved communities.

The funding was made available by the American Rescue Plan and is being distributed by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services through the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA).

The grant will bring together community health workers, patient navigators and social support specialists to educate and assist people in accessing and receiving COVID-19 vaccinations. The level of community transmission in Monroe County is listed as substantial, according to the CDC COVID tracker.

More than 62 percent of Monroe County residents have had at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, but cases are on the rise. The CDC reports that hospitalizations are up 110 percent in the last week in Monroe County, while the number of cases are up nearly 103 percent.

FLPPS is the lead agency for the grant work and is partnering with Human Service Development, Ibero-American Action League, MC Collaborative, Father Tracy Advocacy Center, Ardent Solutions, Western NY Coalition of Farmworkers and S2AY Rural Health Network. FLPPS and Common Ground Health will oversee program delivery in coordination and collaboration with the regional vaccine hubs across the 13-county FLPPS region.

The FLPPS grant is part of the $121 million in American Rescue Plan funding to 127 agencies nationwide.

“This grant will support trusted voices in local communities in sharing information about vaccines, building vaccine confidence, and addressing barriers to vaccination for individuals in underserved communities,” said FLPPS Executive Director Carol Tegas.

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SNAP benefits to increase for low-income families statewide

The state Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance this week said that all New Yorkers enrolled in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) will receive the maximum allowable level of food benefits for April. Households already at or near the maximum benefit level will receive a supplemental payment of at least $95 per month for as long as the supplemental payments continue.

“The global pandemic continues to exacerbate hardship among New Yorkers, especially among those households that were already struggling with food insecurity,” said OTDA Commissioner Mike Hein. “These added food benefits are a welcome relief for countless families and individuals across our state as we begin to med our battered economy and look to the future.”

The emergency assistance supplement is provided to SNAP households that do not ordinarily receive the maximum allowable benefit per month. The additional benefits will begin being distributed this week and continue through the end of the month.

Recent federal action allows for a minimum supplement of $95 per month to all households already receiving the maximum level of food benefits. Households that had been receiving an allotment of less than $95 per month will now receive a minimum supplement of $95, officials said.

The passage of the American Rescue Plan last month also extended the 15 percent increase in SNAP benefits through September that initially was due to expire in June. The bump in food benefits will provide roughly $30 more per person per month, or roughly $120 additional each month for a household of four, federal estimates show. With the 15 percent increase factored in, the maximum benefit level will be $234 for an individual and $782 for a family of four.

Nearly half of all households in New York that participate in SNAP will receive the supplemental allotment later this month, which will result in a $100 million infusion into the state’s economy, officials noted. The additional benefits for the lowest income New Yorkers and the 15 percent increase for all SNAP recipients will amount to roughly $210 million in additional federal aid in April.

The additional SNAP benefits have provided more than $1.5 billion in much-needed federal dollars to local retailers throughout the state since last April, OTDA officials said. As of January 2021, there were more than 2.7 million SNAP recipients statewide, a 7.3 percent increase from January 2020.

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New York tribal communities receive federal funding

More than $3.7 million in federal block grants have been made available for seven New York tribal communities through the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Indian Housing Block Grants Program, including two communities in the Rochester and Finger Lakes region.

The funding, authorized in the American Rescue Plan, will be used to develop new affordable housing projects and improve existing units on Indian reservations and lands, providing tangible relief to individuals and families.

“Let me make this clear: safe housing, especially during a pandemic, is a right,” said U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY)  in a statement this week. “This federal investment gets us closer to our goal of ensuring that every New Yorker has a safe place to call home, including our neighbors in New York’s tribal communities. I have long believed in the importance of directing resources to historically disadvantaged communities, and that need is even more pronounced in this crisis which has done so much to worsen those inequities. I will always fight tooth and nail so all of New York’s tribal community members have a place to call home.”

The tribal communities awarded funding include:
• Tonawanda Bank of Seneca, Basom, $35,007
• Cayuga Nation, Seneca Falls, $186,448
• Oneida Indian Nation of New York, Verona, $512,804
• Seneca Nation of New York, Irving, $1.75 million
• Shinnecock Indian Nation, Southampton, $67,575
• St. Regis Mohawk Tribe, Akwesasne, $1.12 million
• Tuscarora Nation, Lewiston, $35,007

“I am proud to announce this American Rescue Plan funding to combat homelessness across the country,” said U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY). “The COVID-19 pandemic and resulting economic crisis have exacerbated housing insecurity across New York, especially in underserved communities. This funding will help ensure that New York’s tribal communities have access to stable, safe and affordable housing. No one should ever have to question whether they’ll have a safe place to sleep at night during the pandemic and beyond.”

[email protected] / 585-653-4021
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