WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) today hosted a news conference call as he demands President Trump, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Senate Republicans act to help schools educate students amid the pandemic. Right now, many schools across Ohio are reopening, both in-person and virtually, and are facing the challenges of not having enough funding and support to adequately protect and support teachers, schoolchildren, and school administrators as they seek to provide a high-quality education for students.
“Senate Leader Mitch McConnell and Donald Trump have abandoned parents and students and teachers in the middle of a national crisis,” said Brown. “Parents are under unbearable stress. Teachers are doing their best, while worried for their own health, and worried about their students, and the achievement gap we know is getting worse because of this pandemic. We need to pass a real relief bill that includes that funding – and that gives Ohio communities the flexibility they need to respond to local conditions.”
Brown was joined on the call by Mr. Matthew Bowen, Superintendent of the Campbell City School District in the Mahoning Valley.
“We sincerely appreciate Sen. Brown’s ongoing support, and join him in urging Congress to provide the educational investments that we need to provide our students with high-quality instruction – whether it’s face-to-face or fully remote. Our children are our future and investing in their continued success must remain a top priority as our country grapples with this pandemic,” said Mr. Bowen. “That’s why we need to ensure we have the federal support and assistance necessary to do our jobs, so the focus can stay on the children and not on cutting services in order to stay afloat.”
Brown has led efforts to support schools, teachers and students during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Brown has called for at least $175 billion to help support our K-12 students and schools during the pandemic. Brown has also been urging Senate Republicans to do the right thing and pass the Heroes Act, which the House passed months ago. Trump, McConnell and the Senate GOP have been stalling on passing critical relief efforts:
· This legislation includes $90 billion for public schools, K-12 and higher education, to reopen safely. The funding also does not condition federal dollars on reopening in-person instruction. Brown believes school districts need to make the right decision for their students, educators, and staff, and President Trump’s and Senate Republicans’ efforts to condition aid on in-person classes and shift federal funds to school privatization efforts would hurt students and undermine public education.
· The bill also includes critical funding for state and local governments, so communities can help replace the revenue they have lost as a result of the pandemic. The federal government needs to help make these communities whole, or they could face the devastating choice of having to lay off teachers, first responders, public works officials, and more. The bill includes $500 billion for states and another $375 billion directly for local governments, to directly provide counties, cities, towns, and villages the support they need.
Brown is also pressing Republicans to stop stalling relief efforts and help Democrats pass critical assistance for grandparents and other relatives who are caring for school-aged children in a guardian capacity. Even before the pandemic, it was a challenge to ensure caregivers received the support they needed to provide for the children in their care. Now, with a new school year underway, these families and caregivers are facing unique challenges that are made worse by Republican efforts to stall critical relief for Ohioans.
Brown is leading the Child Welfare Emergency Assistance Act with Sens. Harris, Casey, and Cortez Masto that would provide emergency aid to kinship caregivers in Ohio by:
· Investing $2 billion to support state child welfare agencies in providing families and kinship caregivers, with a broad range of support services, including assistance for transportation, housing, and utilities.
· Providing $30 million for kinship navigator programs to ensure kinship caregivers have access to information and resources, including food, safety supplies, technology, and COVID-19 testing.
· Expediting eligibility for children living with a relative in foster care for federal support, and allowing 100% federal support for kinship caregiver payments through the Guardianship Assistance Program.
Brown urged the Trump Administration in March to issue national guidance for child welfare agencies who must still work to protect and support children during the COVID-19 outbreak. In a letter sent to Vice President Mike Pence and Administration on Children, Youth and Families Commissioner Elizabeth Darling, Brown urged the Administration to issue comprehensive guidance to states and tribes to ensure youth, child welfare workers, and relative caregivers have access to the full range of support services to meet their educational, health, and housing needs.
In January, U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) urged Gov. Dewine to release court ordered funds made available for Ohio kinship caregivers by the Sixth Circuit Court’s 2018 ruling in D.O. v. Glisson. The Court ruling made clear that “approved” kinship caregivers must receive the same payments as “licensed” foster parents. It has been three years since the court order and Ohio has yet to make these payments available to kinship caregivers. In a letter sent to Gov. Dewine, Brown urged the Governor to do more to support Ohio caregivers raising children unexpectedly, by implementing the 2018 ruling. Brown also urged Gov. Dewine to submit a revised Title IV-E plan to the Administration on Children, Youth, and Families at the Department of Health and Human Services that includes the Guardianship Assistance Payment (GAP) program. Enrollment in the program will provide robust federal assistance to kinship caregivers, thus allowing children to exit foster care to a permanent home.