MADISON -- Gov. Tony Evers announced today an additional $47 million investment in COVID-19 support for child care, healthcare navigators, and energy and rental assistance to Wisconsinites across the state. The effort is funded through the Federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act Coronavirus Relief Fund (CRF) and will be infused into existing CRF-funded programs and used for new programs as the pandemic continues to affect Wisconsinites.
“As we continue to fight this pandemic across our state, we need to make sure folks have the support they need from housing and food security, to making sure they have access to quality, affordable healthcare,” said Gov. Evers. “The investment announced today will provide critically important assistance for Wisconsinites as we continue to encourage folks to stay home as much as possible.”
$10 million will be directed towards the COVID-19 Out-of-School Support Grant Program aimed at assisting Wisconsin organizations who are providing care to school-aged kids during the pandemic. Administered by the Wisconsin Department of Administration (DOA), the program provides eligible organizations grant awards to cover pandemic-related impacts such as lost revenue, increased staffing costs, cleaning and sanitization, and additional costs to ensure high-quality programming otherwise impacted by COVID-19.
“Our out-of-school support providers are a critical part of the team of entities ensuring Wisconsin kids are getting what they need, whether their traditional school setting is in-person or virtual this year,” Gov. Evers continued. “What’s best for our kids it what’s best for our state, and these organizations are stepping up in a big way to make sure our kids have a safe place to go during this unprecedented pandemic.”
With winter on the horizon and as temperatures drop, making sure Wisconsinites have access to safe, warm housing is critical. $10 million will be invested in the successful Wisconsin Rental Assistance Program (WRAP), in addition to the $25 million previously announced. To date, WRAP has helped nearly 10,000 households across the state as of October 5th. Additionally, $10 million will go toward the Food Security Initiative in recognition of the role the program has played in combatting hunger. This investment is on top of the $15 million previously allocated to this program.
To ensure Wisconsinites not only have access to housing but can pay their utility bills as we head into the winter months, $15 million of the funds will be invested in Wisconsin’s Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP), a program that is currently federally-funded and helps Wisconsinites with their heating costs. Interested individuals can visit homeenergyplus.wi.gov/ or call 1-866-HEATWIS for application and program details.
An additional $1 million investment will be directed towards the Keep Wisconsin Warm/Cool Fund (KWW/CF), a non-profit that provides a statewide safety net to individuals facing energy-related emergencies. Interested individuals can visit kwwf.org/apply& to learn more about the KWW/CF application and process.
Finally, ensuring everyone has access to quality, affordable healthcare continues to be a top priority, especially as COVID-19 surges across our state. Given the increasing number of Wisconsinites facing unemployment and the loss of employer-sponsored health insurance during the pandemic, $1 million will be invested in the statewide health insurance navigator organization to help residents purchase health insurance on the federal marketplace or to enroll in BadgerCare. For many Wisconsinites, this may be their first time selecting a plan on the exchange, which can be a complicated process. This funding will help increase consumer education and access to healthcare navigators who can walk individuals through the process of selecting and purchasing an individual or family plan or in enrolling for BadgerCare if they are eligible. Wisconsinites can learn more about their health insurance options at WisCovered.com.