Unprecedented events demand unprecedented responses. Read our team’s analysis of federal legislation responding to COVID-19, including updates 21st Century Community Learning Centers, Child Care Development Block Grants, USDA meals and snacks, and AmeriCorps service.

COVID-19 Response & Recovery - Tools to Make the Case for Afterschool & Summer Learning Programs

What are the main pieces of Federal Legislation surrounding the Coronavirus response that have passed so far?

Update, March 12, 2021: Learn more about the American Rescue Plan!

Currently, four pieces of legislation have passed through Congress and been signed into law.

Coronavirus Preparedness and Response Supplemental Appropriations Act

March 4

The Coronavirus Preparedness and Response Supplemental Appropriations Act provides an initial $8.3 billion investment in areas mainly related to the direct health and medical areas needed for a response.

Families First Coronavirus Response Act

March 18

The Families First Coronavirus Response Act includes waivers for USDA meals programs, and requirements around paid sick and family medical leave.

Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act

March 27

The Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act includes a $30 billion education stabilization fund, a large portion of which can be flexibly used for supports including afterschool and summer, as well as provisions for school-age child care for children of essential employees, non-profit business support, and charitable giving.

Fourth measure of supplemental appropriations

April 24

On April 23, 2020, Congress passed its fourth measure including supplemental appropriations to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Paycheck Protection Program and Health Care Enhancement Act (P.L. 116-139) includes enhancements for the Small Business Administration's Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDL), and Emergency EIDL grants, and emergency supplemental appropriations for the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and Small Business Administration (SBA). The Congressional Budget Office estimates that the act will result in $321.3 billion in additional direct spending for the PPP, and $162.1 billion in additional discretionary spending, including $50 billion for EIDL and $10 billion for Emergency EIDL grants.

A fifth Covid-19 relief bill is currently being worked on by Congress.

If schools are closed, what happens to 21st Century Afterschool Programs?

Since March, 21st Century Community Learning Center afterschool programs have operated virtually, in-person, and as hybrid programs, particularly over the summer months. One question has been whether programs can serve students during times when virtual school is in session.

On Sept. 3, 2020, the U.S. Department of Education(ED) posted a notice in the Federal Register on their intent to offer a waiver to allow State Education Agencies (SEAs) to waive the definition of Community Learning Center(s) for implementation of services during "non-school hours or periods when school is not in session (such as before and after school or during summer recess)" for 21st Century Community Learning (21st CCLC) programs in school year 2020-2021. While the notice allows for a 60 day comment period, the Department of Education has been permitted to offer and approve waivers during the comment period. State Education Agencies are expected to apply for and receive waivers this fall. Read more here.

Additionally, states have moved ahead with their own guidance. Nearly all 50 states have issued 21st CCLC guidance for the COVID emergency. Guidance topics include ensuring programs know they may continue to pay staff during the crisis, as well as lists of activities programs may engage in with on-site programming closed, such as virtual learning, meals support, family outreach, and professional development. Many states continue to update their 21st CCLC policies as well. While we do not endorse any specific policies, for some examples of state issued 21st CCLC Guidance, take a look at Indiana, Oregon, California and Montana, which specifically mentions that programs are encouraged to continue to pay all staff for their efforts during the shutdown to alleviate potential financial instability and hardship for employees.

If you cannot find your states guidance on your state COVID webpages feel free to reach out to your state 21st CCLC office directly, or email us and we will see if we know of any guidance in your states.

As schools reopen, what role can afterschool programs play?

To help afterschool and summer learning programs through the school reopening process, we've curated a number of resources, guides, and examples to help you develop a plan to safely care for children and youth. You can access those here:


Can my program continue to provide afterschool meals?

Afterschool programs can play a vital role in providing in ensuring eligible children continue to receive meals while schools are closed. The USDA Food and Nutrition Services has issued a number of waivers to assist afterschool programs and other sponsors in serving meals to students. Issues covered in these waivers include guidance on:

  • serving meals in non-congregate settings,
  • elimination of the activity requirement in afterschool programs,
  • allowances for parents and guardians to pick up meals and flexibility to distribute more than one day's worth of meals at a time, and
  • meal pattern flexibility.

Many of these waivers were extended in late August to run through the end of the 2020 calendar year. Read more here. To learn more about how afterschool programs can work with community partners to provide meals, check out this webinar hosted by the Afterschool Alliance, the Food Research and Action Center (FRAC) and other partners. Additionally, this FAQs document provides additional guidance on how to safely provide meals, as well as answers to specific questions on serving meals through the Summer Food Service Program and the Child and Adult Care Feeding Program.

How is childcare policy, including the Child Care Development Block Grant (CCDBG) changing?

First, the Federal Office of Child Care did release COVID-specific guidance to the field. Find it here. This guidance includes information such as:

  • Lead Agencies can use or modify their absence policy to pay providers if programs are closed or children are absent due to COVID-19, and may pay based on enrollment rather than attendance
  • Lead agencies may enroll new providers to meet emergency demand and must meet health and safety requirements unless they seek a temporary waiver for extraordinary circumstances
  • CCDBG funds can be used to provide school-age care programs during the birtual school day with certain restrictions. More here.

Child Care Aware has produced a useful map of the three main ways child care has been affected by the National Health emergency: Centers are mostly either (1) still operating under new health requirements and waivers, (2) are entirely closed by the state or (3) allowed to operate only as centers serving emergency workers. Some states that had initially closed all programs, moved to a policy of opening programs back up to serve children of essential workers. See a map here of policies across the states.

While we do not endorse any policies, for a sense of the scope of the response of what states are releasing for child care policy, see Tennessee which is offering emergency grants to help programs stay open; Louisiana with a detailed policy including areas centers ought to keep clean and special waivers to help providers buy the necessary amount of supplies in places where they are rationed; and Illinois which is operating an Emergency Child Care only systems.

Because of the rapid pace of change, your best resource outside of the map above (which includes the time the information was updated) may be to go directly your state COVID page to find the most recent policy.

What happens if my AmeriCorps Service has been interrupted?

The Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) is working closely with Congress to ensure that all AmeriCorps members receive their promised benefits if their service year is interrupted. The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act includes provisions related to the CNCS that provides participants serving in National Service Corps programs (including AmeriCorps and AmeriCorps VISTA) with the educational award they were due to receive before their duties had been suspended or placed on hold during the COVID-19 declaration of disaster. The bill also extend the age limits and the terms of service to allow individuals serving in national service programs to continue participating in programs after the COVID-19 declaration of disaster ends.

Additionally, CNCS is continuously updating guidance for National Service Corps members and their sponsors. Their FAQs page is continuously updated as new guidance is issued, and includes guidance related to specific National Service programs.

What assistance from the CARES Act is available for non-profits and small businesses to support them financially during to fiscal challenges due to the COVID-19 pandemic?

There are four major provisions to support nonprofits (and in some cases small businesses) included in the CARES Act, as well as paid sick leave and FMLA provisions in the Families First Coronavirus Response Act. These include:

The Act allows virtually all employers to delay payments of employer side Social Security taxes for the period from March 27, 2020, through December 31, 2020 (the “payroll tax deferral period”). Half of the deferred taxes are due by December 31, 2021; the other half by December 31, 2022. This provision does not apply to employers who have a covered small business loan forgiven under Section 1106 of the Act.

The Act also allows self-employed individuals to delay payments of 50% of the Social Security component of self-employment taxes for the payroll tax deferral period. Half of the deferred taxes are due by December 31, 2021; the other half by December 31, 2022.

The CARES Act creates a refundable payroll tax credit of up to $5,000 for each employee on the payroll when certain conditions are met. The entity had to be an ongoing concern at the beginning of 2020 and had seen a drop in revenue of at least 50 percent in the first quarter compared to the first quarter of 2019. The availability of the credit would continue each quarter until the organization’s revenue exceeds 80 percent of the same quarter in 2019. For tax-exempt, non-profit organizations, the entity’s whole operations must be taken into account when determining the decline in revenues. Notably, employers receiving emergency SBA 7(a) loans would not be eligible for these credits.

Under the CARES Act stimulus bill, nonprofits and small businesses with fewer than 500 employees will be eligible for loans to meet payroll and other qualifying costs. Much of the loan is forgivable if you keep staff on payroll during the loan period (currently March 1 through June 30). This, in essence, turns a portion of the loan into a GOS grant. The total loan fund is expected to be $349B, and loans will be given out on a first-come, first-served basis. Recipients do not have to certify that they are unable to obtain credit elsewhere.

  • Loan amount is 2.5 times the organization’s average monthly payroll, with pay capped at $100,000 per employee
  • Up to 8 weeks of average payroll and other costs will be forgiven if the business retains its employees and their salary levels through June 30
  • The application is not yet live, but details are emerging on the SBA website; we encourage you to keep checking the website and complete the application as soon as it becomes available
SBA Economic Injury Disaster Loans EID loans offering up to $2M in assistance are already available on a first-come, first-served basis to nonprofits to help overcome temporary loss in revenue caused by COVID-19. These loans are similar to other disaster relief loans and do not include loan forgiveness. The application is straightforward and can be completed online now.
  • Loans offer up to $2M in assistance
  • The interest rate for nonprofits is 2.75%, with repayment terms of up to 30 years. Funds may be used to pay fixed debt, payroll, accounts payable, and other bills that can’t be paid due to the impact of restrictions
  • Organizations cannot receive funding from both programs unless the loan applications are for different purposes (i.e. personnel and rent costs for 7(a) and other operating expenses for EIDL)
More resources and information are available here:

ARP: School-Age Child Care Opportunities for Afterschool and Summer


In this webinar, we discuss the importance of directing new ARP child care funds to school-age care, including afterschool and summer programs, and outline information for providers on how the funds might support their work and ability to serve youth and families equitably.


America After 3PM: A Game-Changing Summer


The report " A Game-Changing Summer: A time for opportunity and growth, but not for all," provides insights into what the 2019 summer looked like based on responses from nearly 30,000 U.S. families, as well as includes 2020 parent and provider survey data to she light on the impact the pandemic had on young people's summer experiences.


Powerful Partnerships: Schools and Afterschool & Summer Programs


With new support from the American Rescue Plan, schools have an opportunity to leverage support from afterschool and summer programs to help students re-engage, re-connect, and recover. Join us to explore what's possible, how to quickly form effective partnerships, and how to maximize an investment in community-based partners for student recovery.


American Rescue Plan: How to Access Funds for Afterschool & Summer


This “must join” session will provide an overview of the funding opportunity and provide tools that local communities can use to help ensure that they realize the potential of the American Rescue Plan funding to bring more afterschool and summer opportunities to life – and help all children re-engage, re-connect, and recover.


Importance of Including Afterschool in School Reopening Plans


When schools reopen this fall, it won't be business as usual. New health and safety standards developed in response to the COVID-19 pandemic necessitate a radical rethinking of the way we serve students.


Virtual Town Hall: #Afterschoolworks to Support Learning & Recovery


The National Town Hall celebrates the many ways afterschool programs have risen to the moment to help their communities respond to the pandemic, and looks ahead toward afterschool and summer learning programs' critical role in recovery. Read the follow-up Q&A document here.


Facing Inequity with Youth and Families During the COVID-19 Era


The COVID-19 pandemic is exposing and widening existing social justice gaps in education broadly and out-of-school time is no exception. Given this unprecedented time, we focus on real-time approaches that afterschool and summer learning programs can use to move the needle on issues of equity and access.


Safely Engaging Youth in a Virtual World


With the quick transition from in-person to virtual learning environments, afterschool providers are quickly adapting to serve young people in this new virtual world. But sifting through all of the resources that have flooded the field can be a tough task. Instead, we can learn from experts who have years of experience preparing educators to engage students in a virtual environment.


Policy Supports for Afterschool and Summer Programs during the Pandemic


State and federal legislation and guidance around education, child care, human services, and child nutrition policy are rapidly changing under the COVID-19 pandemic. As these policies and guidance shift, it is critical to keep track of where things stand and what's coming up.


How Federal COVID-19 Response Bills can Support Afterschool Opportunities


Many afterschool providers are struggling to provide opportunities for young people and families in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, and financial assistance and flexibility is often needed. We will talk through opportunities included in the three major COVID-19 response bills, as well as a glimpse into what’s proposed for next round of legislation.