On Friday, March 27, the president signed the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act), H.R. 748. Additional emergency aid bills are expected in future months.

H.R. 748 represents a $2 trillion package that includes a wide range of funding and policy measures to respond to the coronavirus outbreak, including to address the early care, education, and emergency housing needs of children, youth, and families. A summary of these provisions is provided below.

K-12 Education

Federal Education Laws Remain in Force with Limited Waivers

Children and youth experiencing homelessness retain all educational rights under current federal law. 

  • The legislation authorizes the Secretary of Education to waive various sections of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act related to assessments, state plans, and allocation of funding.
  • The legislation does not authorize the Secretary to waive the education subtitle of the McKinney-Vento Act; the requirement that local educational agencies reserve funds for homeless students under Title I Part A; the requirements that state and local educational agencies serve children with disabilities who are experiencing homelessness; or unaccompanied homeless youth’s status as independent students for financial aid under the Higher Education Act. These and most other educational protections remain in effect.

Emergency Education Funding

The CARES Act includes several new funding streams to support early care and education.

Activities authorized by the education subtitle of the McKinney-Vento Act were one of six federal education programs specifically called out in the legislation (no K-12 federal education program received specific, dedicated funding). SchoolHouse Connection is collaborating with state leaders, including state educational agency leaders, to help target funding to the needs of students experiencing homelessness.

Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund

Amount and Distribution

  • This fund provides $13 billion to State Educational Agencies (SEAs), which will be distributed to SEAs based on Title I, Part A formula.
  • At least 90% of these funds must be awarded to local educational agencies (LEAs), also based on the Title I Part A formula.


  • The U.S. Department of Education (ED) must issue a notice inviting applications from SEAs within 30 days, and must approve or deny applications not later than 30 days after receipt.

Allowable Uses of Funds:

  • Allowable uses of funds specifically include activities authorized under the education subtitle of the McKinney-Vento Act, and activities to address the unique needs of students experiencing homelessness, including how outreach and service delivery will meet their needs. 
  • Other allowable uses of funds include:
    • Planning for and coordinating how to provide meals and technology.
    • Purchasing educational technology (including hardware, software and connectivity) for students.
    • Mental health services and supports.
    • Ensuring access to summer learning and supplemental afterschool programs for students experiencing homelessness.

Governors Emergency Education Relief Fund 

Amount and Distribution

  • This fund provides $3 billion to states, based on a combination of the number of individuals ages 5-24 (60% of the formula) and the number of children who are eligible under Title I Part A (40% of the formula).

  • The U.S. Department of Education (ED) must issue a notice inviting applications from states within 30 days, and must approve or deny applications not later than 30 days after receipt.

Purpose and Uses:

  • For emergency grants to LEAs, and to institutions of higher education, that are most significantly impacted by coronavirus, for emergency educational services to support their ability to continue to provide educational services and their on-going functionality.
  • For grants to any other LEAs, institutions of higher education, or education-related entities the Governor deems essential for carrying out emergency educational services
, for activities authorized under Elementary and Secondary Education Relief fund (which include McKinney-Vento Act uses), the Higher Education Act, and child care and early childhood education, social and emotional support, and protection of education-related jobs.

Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund

Amount and Distribution: This fund provides $14 billion to higher education institutions, based primarily on the percent of enrolled Pell Grant recipients.

Use of Funds: Institutions must use at least 50% of funds to provide emergency financial aid grants to students for expenses related to the disruption of campus operations due to coronavirus (including eligible expenses under a student’s cost of attendance, such as food, housing, course materials, technology, health care, and child care).

Student Loans:

  • Defers payments on federal student loans until October 2020.
  • Provides a new tax break to student aid borrowers whose employers help them repay their debt.

Early Childhood and Child Care Funding

  • $3.5 billion for the Child Care and Development Block Grant.
  • $750 million for Head Start.

Housing and Homelessness Assistance

Evictions and Foreclosures

  • Eligible landlords who receive forbearance of mortgage payments on rental properties (available for 90 days) cannot evict renters or charge late fees or penalties for nonpayment of rent.
  • Federally-backed mortgages cannot be put in foreclosure until at least May 17.

Emergency Funding

  • $25 million for Runaway and Homeless Youth Act grants to supplement existing funds, without matching requirements.
  • $4 billion for Emergency Solutions Grants (ESG).
    • Up to $2 billion of these funds must be distributed to 2020 grantees under the FY2020 formula; allocations must be made within 30 days.
    • Remaining funds must be allocated to states or local units of government by a formula determined by the Secretary; these allocations must be made within 90 days.
    • Individuals considered to be at “at risk of homelessness” are eligible for prevention activities funded under ESG.
  • $5 billion in Community Development Block Grants (CDBG), which can be used for rental assistance.
  • $1.25 billion in Tenant-Based Rental Assistance (TBRA).
  • $1 billion in Project-Based Rental Assistance (PBRA).

Food Assistance

  • $8.5 billion for Child Nutrition Programs.
  • $15.5 billion for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).
  • $450 million for the Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP).

To read the full text of the legislation, click here.

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