As our nation celebrates the essential workers on the front line who are sacrificing so much to care for others during this unprecedented crisis, we must also remember the essential workers who are often hidden from the public eye: the child welfare case managers and child protective investigators who protect vulnerable children. The home visitors who support struggling families. The counselors who provide literal lifelines to children coping with mental illnesses. And the many frontline professionals serving in community-based human services organizations that house, feed, and care for millions of children, adults, and families across the country who require critical support.
These essential employees in every community across the nation are critical to meet the increased needs of vulnerable families, now more than ever.
But while the demand for these professionals — and the organizations they represent — is greater now more than ever, the public health crisis we are all battling is taking a tremendous toll on nonprofits nationwide. Our federal government must to more to ensure that organizations can continue to meet the growing, urgent demands for their services.
The CARES Act is a good start to address the needs of human services nonprofits, but it doesn’t go far enough. Without additional support specifically targeting these organizations — at all sizes — countless families, children and seniors will suffer.
Many human services nonprofits receive the majority of their revenue through government grants and contracts that rarely cover the full cost of providing services. Charitable donations, which often fill significant funding gaps, are down, and annual fundraising events are on hold. Despite this, the Children’s Home Society of Florida, like many organizations, refuses to allow children and families to go unserved.
Families on the brink of crisis find the stability, guidance, and practical tips they need to make it through another day. They find the compassionate listener who offers the advice that gives them hope for today, steps for success tomorrow.
During this time of social distancing, many of our human services professionals can connect with children and families through technology, but some children still need to be seen.
Child welfare case managers still go out day after day, night after night to place eyes on children who, without the services these professionals provide, could be at risk of suffering abuse or neglect. And when a foster child was in the hospital last month, our Children’s Home Society of Florida case manager was right there with him.
But nonprofits cannot continue to provide these critical services without the necessary funding, as insufficient funding puts organizations’ financial stability at risk across the country, it also jeopardizes their very missions.
While the CARES Act does provide some relief funding through the Small Business Administration for nonprofits, there are limitations for larger nonprofits, and it’s simply not enough to keep the sector moving forward.
One of the unanswered requests from a coalition of more than 200 nonprofit groups was for an immediate infusion of $60 billion for the sector.
Though the CARES Act did include an above-the-line, universal charitable tax deduction to incentivize charitable giving, nonprofits had asked that the universal deduction be expanded beyond the $300 cap and extended past 2020.
We know there is more work happening in Washington, and we are grateful for the ongoing discussions. Recently, Representatives Seth Moulton (D-Mass.) and Brian Fitzpatrick (R-Pa.) introduced the Save Organizations that Serve (SOS) America Act. The legislation would provide the $60 billion in emergency funding for nonprofits and create a broader universal charitable deduction.
We call on Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Speaker Nancy Pelosi and other leaders in Congress to work together in a bipartisan way to broaden resources for the essential employees that make up our nonprofit human services sector.
This is more important than ever before. Our nation cannot afford to lose this vital support system for vulnerable children, families and seniors in this time of crisis.