COVID-19 Resources

Resources and Supports for Families During the COVID-19 Pandemic
Children’s Defense Fund-Minnesota shares the concerns of Minnesota families as we face this crisis created by COVID-19. The federal and state government along with the non-profit and business communities are working together to bring additional resources and supports to children and families as quickly as possible. We recognize that not only is this a pubilic health crisis but it is also a financial crisis for many familes as their job situations and security changes. Information is being updated daily as new resources and guidelines are made available. To help communicate this ever-evolving body of information to the public, CDF-MN will begin using the Bridge to Benefits website as a Bulletin Board to list resources and supports to help Minnesota families through the COVID-19 pandemic. In addition, as families face employment changes and financial challenges brought on by this crisis, Bridge to Benefits can still be used to help assess eligibility for a wide array of public programs such as SNAP, Medical Assistance, Child Care Assistance, Energy Assistance, Early Learning Scholarships, School Meals and WIC. Click Start at left to begin a screen to see if you may be eligible for any or all of these programs. To learn more about resources and supports offered in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, click on one of the issue areas below:
  1. Emergency Modifications to Public Programs
  2. Financial Resources
  3. Child Care
  4. Health Care
  5. Nutrition
Emergency Modifications to Public Programs

The Minnesota Department of Human Services has issued the following modifications to public programs to help Minnesotans during the COVID-19 emergency. These modifications will remain in effect for the duration of the emergency or for other lengths of time if specified  For more information, visit COVID-19

Medical Assistance and MinnesotaCare:

Current enrollees will retain benefits for this quarter without reapplying

Quarterly reassessments of services for older adults and people with disabilities will be done on the phone instead of in-person.

The prescription drug limits on maintenance medications for certain therapeutic drug classes have been increased from 34 days to 90 days for all Medical Assistance and MinnesotaCare enrollees. 

SNAP:

Online Grocery Shopping Allowed: SNAP participants can now use their EBT cards to more safely purchase groceries online starting May 28, 2020. For now, Walmart and Amazon are the only online retailers that have been approved for SNAP purchases in Minnesota. However, more retailers are being encouraged to seek federal approval to allow Minnesota SNAP participants more options. For more informations, click here.

Update on Certification Modifications:

Current enrollees of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) will need to recertify in August in order to continue to receive benefits in September and onward.

USDA has notified all states that recertification and renewals must begin again as early as September 1st, 2020.  All SNAP participants who reached the end of their recertification period during the months of March through August will receive a written notice in the mail to renew their application.

Families and individuals who reached the end of their certification period anytime between March through August, will be required to renew their application in August in order to continue receiving benefits.

All SNAP participants with recertification dates in September and onward are advised to renew their application at the required time to ensure the continuation of benefits.

Beginning September eligibility, renewal and benefit amounts for SNAP will be determined by Pre-COVID policies and procedures.

For more information, contact your local county or tribal human services office here

MFIP, General Assistance, Minnesota Supplement Assistance and GRH:

Current enrollees must renew applications in August in order to ensure they receive benefits for September and onward.

All Minnesota Family Investment Program (MFIP), General Assistance (GA), Minnesota Supplement Assistance and GRH participants who reached the end of their recertification period during the months of March through August will receive a written notice in the mail to renew their application.

Families and individuals who reached the end of their certification period anytime between March through August, will be required to renew their application in August in order to continue receiving benefits.

For new enrollees, a simplified enrollment process will be created to allow enrollment, assessments and interviews to be conducted over the phone or internet and waiving certain verification processes. 

Policies that requires face-to-face meetings and/or documentation from third-parties will be suspend during the COVID-19 emergency. 

For more information or clarifying questions, contact your county or tribal human services office here

Mental Health Services:

A range of mental health services will be conducted on the phone instead of in-person.

Child Care Assistance Program:

The limits on absent days will be lifted.

Redetermination due dates have been extended by three months on cases with redeterminations due on or before June 30, 2020.

Pandemic-EBT (P-EBT) Applications no longer accepted: 

The application deadline for this program was July 31st, 2020; hence, no new applications are being accepted at this time.

If you applied before the deadline but have not yet received your benefit or would like to know the status of your application, submit a P-EBT Help Form . Staff will follow up with you via phone or email. 

*Minnesota has extended P-EBT to provide an additional food benefit through the summer. This program is known as Summer P-EBT and participants will receive a one-time benefit of $100 per child. These benefits will be issued in August.

 

 

 

Financial Resources

Unemployment Insurance for Minnesotans

If your employment has been affected by COVID-19, you can apply for unemployment benefits. Steps have been taken to make the application process a little simpler for those affected. For example: the nonpayable "waiting" week has been waived and changes have been made to the requirements pertaining to looking for suitable employment.You are encouraged to find additional information online at UIMN.org as the wait to get your questions answered by phone will be lengthy. You can access the online application here.

Unemployment Insurance for Self Employed and Others (PUA)

The Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) is now making Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) payments to people who are self-employed, independent contractors, and other eligibile recipients who are not traditionally eligilible for regular unemployment. PUA was authorized as part of the CARES Act by the federal government and is for workers affected by COVID-19. 

Here's what Minnesotans need to know to apply for PUA:

If you have already applied for regular unemployment benefits, you do not need to do anyting extra to qualify for PUA. DEED will automatically establish a PUA benefit account for you if you are eligible.

If you have not applied for unemployment benefits as of yet, special instructions for self-employed and 1099 workers are available here.These instructions include steps you can take to make your account easily identifiable as potentially eligible for PUA. You must first apply for regular unemployment insurance to be found eligible for PUA. If you applied for unemployment benefits without following these instructions, don't wory. You do not need to change anything. Your account will still be reviewed for PUA eligibility.

DEED expects to be in touch with most people who are eligible for benefits under PUA by the end of April or the first of May. There is no need to call or follow-up. You will hear from DEED if additional information is needed.

You will receive information about PUA benefits in your onlline account, by email and by mail.

Applicants who receive PUA benefits will also receive the $600/week additional payment approved as part of the CARES Act (see below).

PUA benefits will be backdated to the first date of eligibility due to COVID-19.

Go here for more information on COVID-19 information for self-employed.

Additional Unemployment Relief from the Federal Government

The CARES Act additional $600 unemployemnt benefit program ended on July 24th, 2020. A similar benefit is being negotiated by Congress under the HEALS Act. 

More information will be provided as they become available. 

Economic Impact Payments or Stimulus Checks 

There are an estimated 12 million Americans who have not claimed their Economic Impact Payments (or stimulus checks) that were issued by the federal government to help lessen the financial crisis brought on by COVID-19, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. Many Minnesotans are included in this number of Americans who could be missing out on one-time payments of $1200 per adult and $500 per child. It is not too late to claim your check! Eligible Minnesotans have until October 15, 2020 to file for their Economic Impact Payments.

Most of the individuals who have not claimed their checks fall into the non-tax filer category. Because these individuals do not file taxes, they did not automatically receive checks.

If you

  • Earned less than $12,200 ($24,400 if married) in 2019
  • Are not required to file a tax return
  • Don’t plan on filing
  • And, have not received an Economic Impact Payment

To claim your Economic Impact Payment, fill out the form found here on the IRS website.

If you need step by step instructions to complete the IRS non filer form, click here.  

To read more about who qualifies for Economic Impact Payment see below. 

The federal government signed into a law a $2 trillion funding package that will send assistance to Minnesota familes, workers and small businesses to address the economic fallout of the coronavirus pandemic. For families, this means they are eligible for Economic Impact Payments:

*Most households with incomes under $150,000 ($75,000 for singles) will receive $1,200 per adult and $500 per child from the Department of Treasury.

*Payments will phase out for those with higher incomes. Couples whose incomes exceed $198,000 will not be eligible for payments.

*Most households have already received their Economic Impact Payments via mail or direct deposit providing they filed a tax return for tax years 2018 or 2019. Individuals on Social Security have also already received payments. Anyone who has not received an Economic Impact Payment shoudl follow the directions above to claim thier payments by October 15, 2020. 

*No income tax will be owed on these payments.

For the latest information on the Economic Impact Payments, visit the IRS website.

MFIP, General Assistance, Minnesota Supplement Assistance and GRH Modifications

The following modifications have been made to program rules:

Current enrollees must renew applications in August in order to ensure they receive benefits for September and onward.

All Minnesota Family Investment Program (MFIP), General Assistance (GA), Minnesota Supplement Assistance and GRH participants who reached the end of their recertification period during the months of March through August will receive a written notice in the mail to renew their application.

Families and individuals who reached the end of their certification period anytime between March through August, will be required to renew their application in August in order to continue receiving benefits.

For new enrollees, a simplified enrollment process will be created to allow enrollment, assessments and interviews to be conducted over the phone or internet and waiving certain verification processes. 

Policies that requires face-to-face meetings and/or documentation from third-parties will be suspend during the Peace time Emergency. 

For more information visit the Minnesota Department of Human Services website.

Paid Family Leave Updates

Paid family leave to employees in small and midsize businesses will be available shortly according to provisions in the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, signed on March 18. The act allows small and midsize employers to take advantage of two new refundable payroll tax credits that are designed to immediately and fully reimburse them for the cost of providing Coronavirus-related leave to their employees. This relief will provide employees with paid leave, either for their own health needs or to care for family members. The legislation will enable employers to keep their workers on their payrolls, while at the same time ensuring that workers are not forced to choose between their paychecks and the public health measures needed to combat the virus. The key take-a-way is:

Paid Sick Leave for Workers
For COVID-19 related reasons, employees receive up to 80 hours of paid sick leave (for caring for themselves or family members) and expanded paid child care leave when employees’ children’s schools are closed or child care providers are unavailable.

For more details, visit the Department of Labor website

Protections for Homeowners 

COVID-19 has presented serious challenges to homeowners who have experienced signficant decreases in their income. Some protections that pertain to homeowners include:

The Federal Housing Finance Agency announced that all mortgage loans owned by Federal Home Loan (FHA) Banks (such as Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, etc.) will offer temporary relief to those impacted by the Cornoavirus. These individuals will be eligilbe to temporarily delay making their monthly mortgage payments and  during the delay no late fees will be incurred, delinquencies will not be report to credit bureaus, and foreclosures and other legal proceedings will be suspended.

Many other private mortgage lenders have also implemented similar protections for consumers affected by the coronavirus. Check with your mortgage lender if you are having difficulty paying your mortgage because of the coronavirus.

To learn more, visit the Minnesota Homeownership Center

Minneapolis Emergency Housing Fund

The City of Minneapolis has created a Gap Fund for Housing and Small Business support in reponse to the economic challenges residents are experiencing as a result of COVID-19. About $3 million in funding will be available for rental housing support. Funding is available for eligible individuals to use to pay rent (including past due rent payments) and utilities. In most cases grants will not exceed $1,500. Additional grant money will be available to expand the existing Stable Homes Stable Schools Housing Stability Fund. Information about the grants and the elibility requirements is available in multiple languages. Individuals may qualify for this support regardless of immigrant status. 

COVID 19 Housing Assistance Program 

The COVID 19 Housing Assistance Program is currently accepting applications for eligible individuals and families in need of housing assistance payments.  This program is available to pay rent and mortgage.

To qualify for COVID 19 Housing Assistance you must:

  • Be a resident of Minnesota
  • Be a renter or homeowner with an income at or below 300% of federal poverty guidelines, with a preference for those at or below 200% of federal poverty guidelines. To see if your income qualifies, please see the FY 2020 Federal Poverty Guidelines.
  • Have an eligible expense that was incurred after March 1, 2020 that is past due. Housing assistance funds can only be used for eligible expenses incurred between March 1, 2020 and December 30, 2020.
  • Be unable to make the payment(s) owed because of the public health emergency due to unemployment, illness, or another COVID-19 related issue.

Individuals and families who may be eligible must complete the three main steps in the application process in order to access housing assistance benefits.

  1. Determine initial eligibility
  2. Complete the online Common Household Application Form
  3. Work with Local Administrator.

You can find more information on the application process here.

Renters Protection

To protect Minnesota renters during the COVID-19 crisis, the Governor issued an order to suspend rental evictions. However, the order does not reduce or waive rent during this period. Once the suspension ends, owners/landlords can file for evictions and removals can be enforced. Not paying rent on time can still impact credit or cause problems that impact future housing options. If you receive an eviction notice during this peacetime emergency, you may file a complaint with the Minnesota Attorney General's office.

Free Internet

To support distance learning during school closures, Comcast is opening its Xfinity Wi-Fi Network for free nationwide to help connect low-income families. For more information, contact your local Comcast/Xfinity provider.

Emergency Assistance

Minnesota residents who are experiencing a financial crisis that poses a direct threat to their physical health or safety, may be able to get short-term financial aid through their county human services office. The county may provide assistance with emergency temporary shelter; housing costs such as rent payments, damage deposits, home repairs or utility bills; foreclosure prevention; and extra food support for people on special diets. Both families with children and adults without children may qualify. Contact your local county human services office for more information.

 

Child Care

Child Care Assistance Program (CCAP) Modifications:

The limits on absent days will be lifted.

Redetermination due dates have been extended by three months for CCAP cases with redeterminations due on or before June 30, 2020.

Child Care Openings and Advice for Child Care Providers

As of today, child care centers are encouraged to remain open. However, many have closed due to decreased enrollment, financial strain or public health needs. Those that remain open are being asked to provide the Department of Human Services (DHS) with a list of openings and to give priority to children of emergency personnel for those openings. If you need child care, especially if you qualify as emergency personnel, you can call the Child Care Aware parent line at 1-888-291-9811 for a list of openings. Child care providers will charge tuition that varies in accordance with their program policies and business practices. If you need financial assistance, you may apply for Child Care Assistance and Early Learning Scholarships. You can use the Bridge to Benefits Screening tool to see if you are eligible.

School districts and charter schools are being directed to provide care to enrolled students age 12 and under who are children of critical workers at no cost. 

DHS has also issued a number of program waivers and modifications that apply to child care providers. For more details on this information, please visit the DHS website.

Childcare Hotline

DHS is operating a Child Care hotline to answer questions for families and providers at 1-888-234-1268.

Hennepin County Child Care Assistance Program (CCAP) waitlist 

Due to COVID 19 and decreased usage of the Child Care Assistance Program (CCAP) over the last few months, Hennepin County is currently processing applications for families on the CCAP waitlist as well as opening up the waitlist to new families.

This means that families who are currently on the Basic Sliding Fee Child Care Assistance Program waitlist will have the opportunity to apply to receive benefits to help them pay for child care. Waitlisted families have or will soon receive a program application that they should fill out and return to Hennepin County as soon as possible.

Nearly 1,800 applications were sent to families on the waitlist on July 13. Additional applications will be sent to the remaining families on July 27. Families that are on the waitlist but have NOT yet received an application in the mail or have had a change of address with in the last year, should call Hennepin County Child Care Assistance Program waitlist at 612-348-5937.

Also, families in need of child care assistance that are not currently on the waitlist are encouraged to contact Hennepin County at 612-348-5937 to be added. They need only complete a short phone screen to qualify for the waitlist. When their name comes up for enrollment, they will be required to complete the full application. Families interested in CCAP can complete the Bridge to Benefits screening tool on this website to see if they are potentially eligible for the CCAP program.

 

Health Care

Medical Assistance and MinnesotaCare Modifications

The Minnesota Department of Human Services has issued the following modifications to public health care programs to help Minnesotans during the COVID-19 emergency. These modifications will remain in effect for the duration of the emergency or for other lengths of time if specified. For more information, visit COVID-19.

Current health program enrollees will retain benefits for this quarter without reapplying.

The prescription drug limits on maintenance medications for certain therapeutic drug classes have been increased from 34 to 90 days for all Medical Assistance and MinnesotaCare enrollees.

Quarterly reassessments of services for older adults and people with disabilities will be done on the phone instead of in-person.

A range of mental health services will be conducted on the phone instead of in-person.

MNsure Update

MNSure is offering a special enrollment period for qualified individuals who are currently without insurance in response to the potential growth of coronavirus (COVID-19) cases. This special enrollment period runs Monday, March 23 through Tuesday, April 21. To see if you qualify CLICK HERE.

If you currently purchase insurance through MNsure, make sure to keep your account up-to-date by reporting any changes in income, such as losses due to the coronavirus, to MNsure. You may be eligible for Medical Assistance or MinnesotaCare or for additional financial assistance to help pay for your current coverage. Call the MNsure Contact Center at 651-539-2099 (or in greater Minnesota at 855-366-7873). 

Insurance Companies Waive Fees for Coronavirus Treatments

If you purchased your insurance on the MNsure site, COVID-19 diagnostic testing is available at no cost. All four health care insurance companies that sell private health insurance plans on MNsure are waiving co-pays, co-insurance and deductibles related to the coronavirus disease. Learn more.

In addition to those companies that sell insurance through MNSure, other insurance providers are also protecting enrolleees from out-of-pocket costs associated with coronavirus treatments. Cigna, Humana and Aetna have all announced that they will waive fees for some of the costs related to the coronavirus for their enrollees. For more information on which costs are waived, check with your insurance provider.

Latest Information on COVID-19

The MInnesota Department of Health (MDH) is providing a COVID-19 hotline to answer questions about the virus. The hotline is open from 7 am to 7 pm. Call 651-201-3920.

MDH also publishes a list of the clinics in Minnesota that are doing COVID-19 testing. In addition to the names and locations of the clinics, the list includes information that you may need to know before you go to get tested. Click here to see the list.

 

Mental Health Services

State agencies and private organizations in Minnesota are working together to ensure that mental health services are availalble to those who need them including children, youth and adults. Services include telemedicine to replace clinic visits and other well-being supports to help families cope. Mental health services are available here.  In addition, some important emergency Hotlines are listed below:

* National Suicide Prevention Hotline: 1-800-273-TALK (8255)

* Crisis Text Line Text “MN” to 741741

* Minnesota Mobile Mental Health Crisis Line Call: **CRISIS (**274747). For landlines, see the directory for mental health crisis phone numbers in Minnesota by county.

 

 

Nutrition

SNAP Modifications

Current enrollees of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) will need to recertify in August in order to continue to receive benefits in September and onward.

USDA has notified all states that recertification and renewals must begin again as early as September 1st, 2020.  All SNAP participants who reached the end of their recertification period during the months of March through August will receive a written notice in the mail to renew their application.

Families and individuals who reached the end of their certification period anytime between March through August, will be required to renew their application in August in order to continue receiving benefits.

All SNAP participants with recertification dates in September and onward are advised to renew their application at the required time to ensure the continuation of benefits.

Beginning September eligibility, renewal and benefit amounts for SNAP will be determined by Pre-COVID policies and procedures.

For more information, contact your local county or tribal human services office here

WIC Modifications

Many WIC clinics will be closed due to COVID-19. However, staff will be available by phone or by internet. To simplify procedures, WIC has made the following modifications:

Height/weight/hemoglobin measurements will be deferred for 90 days at the time of certification (for new enrollees) or at recertification (for current enrollees).

Phone certifications will replace in-person appointments for new enrollees.

During the pandemic, WIC participants are not required to return formula.

Some modifications have been made for providing proof of income for those who have been laid off and have no income.

To contact your local WIC Program, call 1-800-942-4030 or click here

 

Pandemic-EBT Program Expanded to Include Pre-K and Summer Feeding Programs

The application deadline for this program was July 31st, 2020; hence, no new applications are being accepted at this time.

If you applied before the deadline but have not yet received your benefit or would like to know the status of your application, submit a P-EBT Help Form . Staff will follow up with you via phone or email. 

*Minnesota has extended P-EBT to provide an additional food benefit through the summer. This program is known as Summer P-EBT and participants will receive a one-time benefit of $100 per child. These benefits will be issued in August.

School Meal Program:

Schools may continue to serve school meals to students during the COVID-19 school closure period with a non-congregate dining option. Many schools have implemented school meal distribution plans. Check with your school or school district for more information. 

Links to information on how Minneapolis school distric is delivering school meals are listed below. Other links will be added as received. 

Minneapolis Public Schools Meals During School Closure LINK HERE

Food Shelves:

Many food shelves throughout Minnesota have continued to operate during the COVID-19 crisis and recently received additional fund from the State of Minnesota to replenish their shelves. CLICK HERE to find a food shelf near you.

Restaurants:

Several Minnesota restaurants are serving free meals to children K-12 and to others. For a list of restaurants, CLICK HERE and then click Free Meals for Kids and select Restaurants.

General Information:

Hunger Solutions offers the statewide Minnesota Food HelpLine to help you find food resources for your family. Call 1-888-234-1268.

Summer Eats

As public schools and community meal sites are closed, this site connects kids under the age of 18 to free nutritious meals. Use the site to find more than 400 locations across the state that are providing free meals for kids, or download the mobile app.