UNICEF USA commends the swift action taken by Congress to draft and pass the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. The $2 trillion legislation includes provisions that are critical to the immediate needs of children and families impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
As an organization focused on the health, education and safety of every child, UNICEF USA is thankful for the federal government’s consideration of child care, additional food assistance and emergency funding for schools.
Within the CARES Act, UNICEF USA mobilized quickly to ensure that nonprofit organizations could benefit from the legislation’s provisions to support small businesses. Thanks in part to the advocacy efforts of UNICEF supporters, the CARES Act includes nonprofits within the Paycheck Protection Program to meet payroll costs for small businesses and nonprofits (500 employees or fewer), and Emergency Economic Injury Loan (“EIDL”) Grants, which allow for loans of up to $2 million for businesses/nonprofits. For more information on the CARES Act’s provisions, see Independent Sector and NPR.
The CARES Act also provides some funding for the United States’ global response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Combined with the first coronavirus supplemental, a total of $2.2 billion for global coronavirus response has been added to State Department, U.S. Agency for International Development, and Centers for Disease Control accounts. This funding will assist low-income and under-resourced countries to prepare and respond to the virus.
Based on UNICEF’s global appeal, we need all hands to help vulnerable children around the world!
UNICEF USA encourages the U.S. Government to outline specific funding for UN agencies — including UNICEF — as a part of future COVID-19 funding packages. UNICEF estimates more than $650 million is currently needed to meet the increased needs of communities working to prevent and overcome the spread of COVID-19. As UN Under-Secretary-General Mark Lowcock has stated, “Countries battling the pandemic at home are rightly prioritizing people living in their own communities. But the hard truth is they will be failing to protect their own people if they do not act now to help the poorest countries protect themselves.”
UNICEF USA does have concerns that the coronavirus package still leaves behind some vulnerable children and families. We believe future COVID-19 relief legislation should provide benefits to children and families regardless of migration status.
UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta Fore has stressed:
Children are the hidden victims of the COVID-19 pandemic. Lockdowns and school closures are affecting their education, mental health and access to basic health services. The risks of exploitation and abuse are higher than ever, for boys and girls alike. For children on the move or living through conflicts, the consequences will be unlike any we have ever seen. We must not let them down.
During these times of uncertainty, UNICEF USA stands in solidarity with U.S. policymakers as they take action to ensure the well-being of this country and implore their continued action to address the continued needs of children and families at home and abroad.
Top photo: On March 20, 2020 in Connecticut, 8-year-old Luka has a snack while working on a distance learning assignment with his mother. The coronavirus pandemic has forced school closures around the world, impacting more than 1 billion students. © UNICEF/UNI313417/McIlwaine