First Focus Campaign for Children, along with the Children’s Defense Fund and the Coalition on Human Needs, sent the following letter signed by 170 organizations to the leadership of both chambers of Congress urging them to include the Pandemic TANF Assistance Act in the next COVID-19 relief package so families can access flexible emergency assistance to cover groceries, utility bills, rent, and other basic necessities.

Excerpt from the letter:

To fight back against these growing racial, gender, and economic inequities, Congress must include an emergency grant program to help low-income families and children, especially children of color. The Pandemic TANF Assistance Act (S. 3672), introduced by Sen. Ron Wyden (OR), would do just that. S. 3672 would create a new $10 billion Coronavirus Emergency Assistance Grant Program that would provide essential funding for states, territories, and tribes to address the unmet needs of families and individuals living at 200 percent or below the federal poverty line (FPL). Including families with children at 200 percent of the FPL is critical to addressing the lack of consistent access to nutritious food, stable housing, healthcare, and other vital resources needed to support their healthy development, but often are not included in other federal programs. Near-poor families with incomes between 100 and 200 percent of the FPL experience material hardship at nearly the same rate of families living below the poverty line, which underscores the need for the Pandemic TANF Assistance Act. The Coronavirus Emergency Assistance Grant Program included in this bill would also provide flexible emergency funds that could be used to provide eligible families with short-term cash, non-cash, and in-kind assistance to address their basic needs, or for subsidized employment at the appropriate time that is safe and consistent with public health guidance.

Read the full letter here.