As the coronavirus pandemic stretches our nation’s health system to its limits, the importance of America’s human service professionals has never been more cut and dried. However, nonprofits cannot effectively serve their communities without adequate financial relief or resources from Washington. After more than two months of challenging work, human service professionals are united in telling Congress, “Fund the frontlines!”
As the national office of a sprawling network of more than 300 nonprofit health and human service organizations, Lutheran Services in America is using the collective calls for financial support from members as a springboard for changes in federal and state policy. By channeling these concerns about limited resources into the basis for advocacy efforts, we have been successful in communicating to lawmakers the needs of nonprofits and their workers who are fighting on the front lines of this deadly pandemic. Since March, Lutheran Services in America has worked to secure key priorities in coronavirus relief packages, including:
- Access to financial relief for health and human service nonprofits with more than 500 employees via forgivable loans
- Targeted financial resources for nonprofit frontline health and human services providers to cover unreimbursed expenses related to the pandemic
- Reimbursement of the cost of unemployment insurance benefits paid by nonprofits who self-fund these benefits
- Funding for vulnerable youth and children through the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act and Title IV-E Chafee funds
These outstanding priorities are in addition to some steps we have already taken to address our members’ most prominent needs and concerns. We sought to relieve some of the burden related to business continuity by advocating for the Medicaid exemption with the CARES Act to be removed. We sought new partnerships to help with accelerated entry into the workforce and connected members to personal protective equipment supply networks.
We are also addressing the concerns from our membership through proactive methods in several other key areas. The expanded reliance on technology has opened up new opportunities for facilitating peer-to-peer sharing of news, resources, and insights. The exchange of information about adopting new protocols for residents, addressing employee morale, and other means of combating the COVID-19 strengthens the network’s ability to weather the storm of this unprecedented challenge.
Despite this tremendous progress, there is still much more to be done. We must double our efforts to protect the workforce of nonprofit health and human services organizations as they face narrowing revenue streams amidst a sliding economy. We need to ensure facilities are able to hire new staff quickly and safely at a time they are needed more than ever. We strive to address these challenges every day, and will continue to do so once this global crisis has abated. As Congress considers its next moves to help support the nation, we will push lawmakers and regulatory agencies any way we can to ensure nonprofits receive the resources they need to serve some of our most vulnerable populations.
We are not doing this alone. Lutheran Services in America keeps members informed through regular updates, action-oriented advocacy alerts, and an extensive library of resources, but the dedicated professionals working within our 300-member organization network are the driving force behind any change. We thank all of our members for your courageous efforts. You are on the front lines making a difference to so many every day. Together, we will continue to fight for funding for front line workers who risk their lives every day on behalf of the rest of us.