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State Sen. Needleman – COVID-19 April 28, 2020 Update — Paycheck Protection Program, Child Care for Frontline Workers, & Addiction Recovery Online Meetings

From our State Senator, Norm Needleman.

The state Department of Labor (CTDOL) has begun delivering increased unemployment benefit payments with the first batch having been issued this past week.

The additional $600 weekly payment, known as Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation, was created as part of the emergency response to the COVID-19 pandemic. It is retroactive to March 29, 2020 and will be provided through July 25, 2020.

For those who already received unemployment benefits for previous weeks – such as April 4, 11, and 18 – the agency will be providing retroactive payments as a lump sum by the end of this week.

Claimants can check their online accounts on the CTDOL website at www.filectui.com and see the deposits were issued over the weekend. Those who receive payments through direct deposit should begin seeing the additional amount appearing in their bank accounts by Tuesday.

The first $600 payments totaled more than $89 million. When combined with nearly $51 million issued in state benefits, the agency provided $140 million in unemployment benefits last weekend.

Meanwhile, the DOL continues to work nonstop to implement the remaining two recently established federal stimulus programs:

  • Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA), which provides benefits for self-employed individuals among others, and
  • Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC), a 13-week extension that allows eligible claimants to collect the additional weeks after exhausting the 26 weeks of state benefits.

The agency expects to begin accepting applications for PUA on Thursday, April 30, and plans to have PEUC in operation by mid-May. Both programs will be retroactive.

Paycheck Protection Program

The Paycheck Protection Program, which provides loans to incentivize small businesses to keep workers on payroll during the COVID-19 pandemic, is open for the second round of applications and funding as of today, April 27. The Small Business Association will forgive loans if all employees are kept on payroll for eight weeks and the money is used for payroll, rent, mortgage interest or utility purposes. You can apply through any existing SBA 7(a) lender or any federal insured depository institution, federally insured credit union and Farm Credit System institution participating. For more information about eligible applicants and information about applying, please visit this website.

New Child Care Program for Frontline Workers

The Connecticut Office of Early Childhood has launched the CTCARES for Frontline Workers Program to help frontline workers struggling with the cost of child care during the COVID-19 pandemic. The program provides subsidies directly to child care providers so children can get the care they need while their parents or guardians are able to work.

Under the program, frontline workers include anyone who must work outside of their own home for at least eight hours a week caring for people or providing in-person direct services and essential goods.

Examples of frontline workers include health care workers, first responders, child care workers, grocery workers, workers at state facilities, home/group home care workers (for seniors, youth, mental health, or people with disabilities), and people who provide in-person services to any of the above.

The subsidy depends on the number of children in the household who need care and the number of hours the frontline worker needs to work.

If a frontline employee works 21 or more hours each week:

  • For one child, $200 each week for up to 6 weeks
  • For 2 or more children, up to a maximum of $500 per family each week for up to 6 weeks

If a frontline employee works 8 to 20 hours each week:

  • For one child, $100 each week for up to 6 weeks
  • For 2 or more children, up to a maximum of $250 per family each week for up to 6 weeks

This program is NOT for anyone already participating in the Care 4 Kids program, and there is a family income limit of up to 85 percent of the state median income to qualify. Applications are being accepted from Monday, April 27 through Friday, May 22, 2020. To apply, call 1-800-505-1000.

For more information, including details on who qualifies, read about the program here on the Office of Early Childcare’s website: https://www.ctoec.org/ctcares-for-frontline-workers/

Keeping Children Safe Online During COVID-19

With the COVID-19 pandemic closing schools and requiring social distancing, most of us, especially children and youth, are likely spending more time on the internet. Please monitor your child’s internet usage, as new forms of interaction could be used in negative ways.

  • The best way to make sure your child doesn’t use the wrong platforms is to make sure you know what they’re using. By making sure they are using approved websites, services and apps, they will be less likely to interact with questionable contact or individuals.
  • Many parents are likely essential workers who have to balance their jobs and their children; if possible, make sure a child’s caregiver is supervising their online usage.
  • Address familial tensions early; with social distancing, family stress will likely be elevated, which makes negative influences online an increased threat.

For more information about keeping children safe from online exploitation, please join the Internet Safety Concepts and Connecticut H.A.R.T. Zoom call scheduled for Monday, May 4 at 4 p.m. Registration is limited to 100 people and is available here.

Supporting Individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder

During the COVID-19 pandemic, many lives have been disrupted, with regular schedules and routines being unavailable. Changes like these are especially challenging for individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder. According to researchers from the University of North Carolina, supporting these individuals through uncertain times involves support and understanding, offering opportunities for expression, prioritizing coping and calming skills, maintaining and building new routines, fostering new connections from a distance, and monitoring changing behaviors. You can learn more here.

Expansion of Telehealth for Medicaid-Enrolled Providers

Governor Lamont recently signed an executive order that provides an expansion of the definition of telehealth services, allowing Medicaid-enrolled providers to offer telehealth services to Medicaid recipients, whether those recipients are new or established patients. This step will serve to stem the spread of COVID-19 by ensuring more patients can receive medical advice or care without potentially exposing themselves by visiting a doctor’s office.

National Drug Takeback Day

While the COVID-19 pandemic caused this year’s National Drug Takeback Day, held on April 25, to not go on as planned, Connecticut residents are asked to avoid visiting drug drop boxes this year, taking steps to secure and clean out medicine cabinets safely at home. Anyone with unneeded medication is asked to dispose of it by running it under hot water, mixing it with something undesirable like used coffee grounds or kitty litter, securing it in a container and throwing it away. Excess drugs should not be flushed down the toilet. Residents can also place expired or unnecessary medication in a safe place, so it can be disposed of properly when drug drop boxes are available for use again.

Connecticut Community for Addiction Recovery Online Meetings

With social isolation and distancing necessary, the Connecticut Community for Addiction Recovery is launching digital recovery meetings for members of the community over the online teleconferencing platform Zoom. A 10 a.m. meeting will be held Mondays and Thursdays, while daily meetings are scheduled every day at 12:30 p.m. and a 3 p.m. meeting is scheduled on Mondays, Tuesdays and Fridays. Further specialty meetings for women, young adults, men, support groups and more, and links to join meetings, can be found at this link.

2020 Census Reminder

As of April 24, 46 percent of Connecticut residents, nearly half, have not self-responded to the 2020 Census, which could have important ripple effects across the state if not improved upon. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, local Census outreach has shifted from in-person events to virtual and digital ones, said Lieutenant Governor Susan Bysiewicz.

The state is especially focused on reaching hard-to-count communities. Without an accurate survey of Connecticut residents, the 2020 Census could lead to significant reductions in federal funding in Connecticut through 2030, which would have a sharply negative impact on the state. To mitigate that impact, Census leaders are working on new strategies to get the word out; for instance, online videos in English and Spanish highlight the importance of a complete count in Connecticut. The 2020 Census has delayed some operations, giving more time for individuals to respond; under a delayed plan, the Census is seeking relief that would postpone some final deadlines to mid-2021.

The Census is open for self-response at 2020Census.gov or by calling 844-330-2020 to respond in English or 844-468-2020 to respond in Spanish.

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