Senators Propose $1.07 Billion to Assist Families, Youth, and Children in Crisis as a Result of COVID-19

Bipartisan Group Calls on the Senate to Bolster Comprehensive Assistance for Families in the Next Phase of COVID-19 Relief

U.S. Senators Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), Joe Manchin (D-WV), Dan Sullivan (R-AK), and Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) are calling on the Senate to provide support for children, youth, and families in crisis or experiencing homelessness during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Senators today sent a letter to Senate leadership, asking for dedicated funding to be included in future coronavirus relief in order to meet the unique and complex needs of homeless youth and families through the programs and systems that are best positioned to help them immediately, and ensure their long-term stability.

In their letter to Senate leaders, the senators address a series of issues that accompany homeless families, youth, and children experiencing homelessness—from being at a high risk of COVID-19 transmission, infection, and illness – as well as predation and trafficking.

The Senators write, “Now, more than ever, is an opportunity to close a gap in our federal system, which has disadvantaged our families and youth in crisis who need specific services along with housing assistance. The needs of this critical population that have gone under resourced for years, are exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. We have a responsibility to provide assistance to our families in crisis.”

Additionally, the Senators proposed a new emergency program, ‘the Family Stabilization Fund’  to bolster the existing infrastructure of direct-service providers working to provide comprehensive services keep youth, families, and children out of homelessness and crisis. The additional funding has been proposed to meet the tremendous increase in need caused by the COVID-19 outbreak. The Senators explain why their ask will help to stabilize and protect some of our most vulnerable children and youth during the outbreak and recovery, and also help to prevent entrenched chronic adult homelessness in the future.

In combination, this request will bolster and expand the vital work of key federal programs to help move children, youth, and families experiencing homelessness from crisis to stabilization, healing, and, ultimately, self-sufficiency. These interventions will help ensure that prolonged homelessness does not result from the coronavirus outbreak, and that we protect the futures of some of our most vulnerable children, youth, and families. We urge you to prioritize their needs in the next supplemental package.”

Click here to read the full letter.

“Covenant House Alaska and many of our community partners continue to provide services to children, youth and families experiencing homelessness as well as survivors of human trafficking. We are grateful to Senator Murkowski for being a champion for us at the federal level to ensure that our young people are not an afterthought in the national response to the coronavirus pandemic.” - Alison Kear, CEO of Covenant House Alaska

“COVID-19 and related community changes have already impacted Alaskans. We are all collectively experiencing the economic and societal changes. Experts anticipate a rise in homelessness as the long-term impacts unfold. 211 reports a call increase of over 500% with community members struggling to cover rent and to feed their families. We are watching the rates of child abuse and domestic violence continue to rise across the state. Through tremendous collaboration and innovation, our homeless services providers continue to serve people in need and to connect our community members with housing and services. This ask represents an important extension of the work being done in Alaska. It builds on the recent successes in our youth and family work. We know that quick intervention prevents long-term homelessness. Assisting families helps today and it builds a better future for Alaska as it prevents future homelessness and significant childhood trauma. Thank you to Senator Murkowski for continuing to advocate for Alaska’s children and families.” – Jasmine Boyle, Executive Director of Anchorage Coalition to End Homelessness

“Explicitly targeting resources to children, youth, and families experiencing homeless is the only want to ensure they are not forgotten during this pandemic. Our children and youth have urgent education, service and housing needs and are at great risk of being trafficked for sex, labor, or both.” - Darla Bardine, Executive Director, National Network for Youth

“In the wake of COVID-19, children and youth experiencing homelessness face increased trauma, isolation, deprivation, and instability, as well as tremendous barriers to the services they need to survive and to thrive. By supporting the programs and systems that are best positioned to identify and meet their complex needs – schools, early learning programs, and child- and youth-serving community organizations -- we can stabilize families and youth sooner, and more comprehensively.” - Barbara Duffield, Executive Director for SchoolHouse Connection

The following Alaskan organizations endorse this proposal: Alaska’s Child Care Resource and Referral Network, Alaska Network on Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault, Alaska Children’s Trust, Anchorage Coalition to End Homelessness, Alaska Native Women’s Resource Center, Best Beginnings Alaska, Bethel Community Services Foundation, Catholic Social Services of Alaska, Christian Health Associates, Covenant House Alaska, Kawerak, Mat-Su Health Foundation, MyHouse Mat-Su Youth Center, Rasmuson Foundation, RurAL CAP, STAR, and Volunteers of America

The following national organizations endorse this proposal: (AASA) The School Superintendents Association, Alliance to End Slavery and Trafficking – ATEST, Alliance for Excellent Education, Alliance for Period Supplies, Child Welfare League of America, Children’s Health Fund, Coalition to Abolish Slavery and Trafficking – CAST, Covenant House International, Family Promise, First Focus Campaign for Children , Forum for Youth Investment, National Association of Secondary School Principals, National Diaper Bank Network, National Indian Child Welfare Association, National Network for Youth, National Congress of American Indians (NCAI), National Head Start Association, National Indian Health Board (NIHB), National Indigenous Women’s Resource Center, National Network to End Domestic Violence, Polaris, Safe Horizon, SchoolHouse Connection, SparkAction, YouthBuild USA