Friedman Secures Funds to Fight Food Insecurity and Expand Mental Health Services in FY 2020 Supplemental Budget

$1.1 billion supplemental budget authorizes funding support for emergency child care needs, behavioral health services, small businesses and makes Juneteenth an official state holiday

BOSTON (7/7/20) – On July 2, 2020, Senator Cindy F. Friedman (D-Arlington) joined her Senate colleagues in passing a $1.1B supplemental budget for Fiscal Year 2020 to support extraordinary costs related to the COVID-19 pandemic that require immediate attention. The spending authorized in this supplemental budget will maximize federal financial support while providing critical resources for our most vulnerable populations.

This bill includes funding support for personal protective equipment, emergency child care for essential workers, health care supports for behavioral health services, small business assistance grants, housing and homelessness supports, food security, and direct support for workers impacted by the ongoing public health crisis. In addition to recognizing the health and safety needs of residents, the legislation also establishes Juneteenth as an official state holiday.

“This supplemental budget is a reflection of the Senate’s ongoing commitment to supporting residents throughout the Commonwealth as we continue to address the COVID-19 public health crisis,” said Senator Friedman, Vice Chair of the Senate Committee on Ways and Means. “I’m especially pleased that this budget includes investments I fought for to address food insecurity and mental health needs in my district, which have been exacerbated as a result of the pandemic.”

To support working families during this uncertain economic time and provide health care supports in the midst of this public health crisis, the supplemental budget includes $82M for childcare needs, $15M for essential behavioral health services, $10M for small business assistance grants, and $10M to provide wage supports to workers impacted by COVID-19.

Building on the investments secured in the budget to support behavioral health needs, Friedman successfully secured $170,000 to support direct mental health counseling and case management for Arlington youth and their families provided by the Arlington Youth Counseling Center (AYCC). The COVID-19 pandemic and the resulting upheaval in daily life – including abrupt school closures and changes in family economic circumstances – continue to take a toll on the mental health of youth. These funds will ensure that the AYCC can continue to provide much-needed mental health services to youth in Arlington.

In response to growing food insecurity challenges during this pandemic, the supplemental budget provides an immediate state allocation of $15M for food security supports, including $9M for the Massachusetts Emergency Food Assistance Program to support our overstretched food bank system during this time of incredible need.

Friedman successfully secured $80,000 to help Food Link MA address increased food insecurity in the Commonwealth due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Food Link is a food rescue organization that serves food banks and other food distribution organizations in Arlington, Billerica, Burlington, Lexington and Woburn, and they’re increasing their reach beyond those communities.

During the pandemic, Food Link has experienced increased demand for food and has dramatically increased their capacity to collect and distribute food. This funding will help Food Link pay salaries and support the expansion of their facility so they can continue to serve those suffering from hunger.

Through the amendment process, the Senate also established a $500 bonus for members of the Massachusetts National Guard who were mobilized to combat COVID-19, included increase funding to assist with coronavirus mitigation efforts at summer camps and youth programs, and create an Early Education and Child Care Public-Private Trust Fund to help inform and support child care needs across the state.

Other notable spending highlights of the FY20 COVID-19 supplemental budget include:

  • $350M for personal protective equipment;
  • $139M for rate add-ons for congregate care and other health and human service providers;
  • $85M for field hospitals and shelters;
  • $44M for the Community Tracing Collaborative;
  • $30M for community health centers;
  • $28M for local housing authorities and family and individual shelter services;
  • $20M for expanded RAFT coverage for families on the brink of homelessness;
  • $20M focused on racial disparities in the health care system during the pandemic;
  • $15M for elder affairs services and home care workforce wage supports;
  • $12.3M for early intervention services;
  • $10M for grants to community foundations serving low-income and immigrant populations with direct supports like housing assistance and food security supports;
  • $5M for increased costs related to the recent conference report on expanded vote-by-mail measures for the 2020 election cycle; and
  • $2M to provide financial assistance to small non-profits impacted by COVID-19.

The supplemental budget also establishes Juneteenth as an official state holiday. Juneteenth is a celebration of the day in 1865 when the remaining enslaved African Americans in the United States were told of their freedom under the Emancipation Proclamation.

The supplemental budget was signed into law by the Governor shortly after.