Washington, D.C., Mayor Muriel Bowser (D) on Thursday announced a one-time “back-to-school” payment for families enrolled in the District’s Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program, citing the need to address the COVID-19 pandemic’s impact on children’s schooling.
“We know that we’re going to spend several years making up for the disconnect of kids from school because of COVID, and everything that we can do to support kids, schools and families is just going to help a little bit more,” the mayor said during a press conference.
The money comes from the Pandemic Emergency Assistance Funds set aside by the federal government in last year’s American Rescue Plan Act.
As many as 15,000 families enrolled in the TANF program will receive about $1,000 dollars by the end of August, the mayor said.
“While we’re open, while the kids are going to go back to open schools, we are still recovering. And I can’t really think of a better investment than in helping young people kick off the school year right,” Bowser said.
There’s no restriction on how the families use the direct payment, even though it’s being touted as a “back-to-school” grant.
“Quite frankly, they may need a family night out. And that’s OK,” Bowser said.
The D.C. mayor is juggling a number of issues in the District. The city is facing 351 monkeypox cases, according to the most recent Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data from Wednesday, as well as shortages of vaccines used to protect against the disease.
D.C. is also a target of protests by Texas Gov. Greg Abbott and Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey against President Biden’s immigration policies. The pair of Republican governors have reportedly sent buses carrying thousands of migrants north to D.C. from the southern border.
Bowser is up for reelection to her third term as the District’s mayor. She won the Democratic primary in June to advance to the November ballot.