Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) Maternal and Child Health Bureau Frequently Asked Questions

Updated: 3/27/2020

HRSA is aware of the impacts the coronavirus (COVID-19) public health emergency has and will continue to have on families. The mission of the Maternal and Child Health Bureau (MCHB) is to improve the health and well-being of America's mothers, children, and families.   Given this mission, programs funded by MCHB, including Title V Maternal and Child Health Block Grant programs and other formula and discretionary grant programs, have an important role to play in delivering critical services and assisting local communities to meet the unique needs of maternal and child health populations. Thank you for your commitment and service to the nation’s mothers, children and families.  We encourage you to be proactive in your emergency preparedness planning and to coordinate with partners at the state and local level in emergency response.

We recommend referring to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) as a resource for all up-to-date information, including the impact of COVID-19 on pregnant and breastfeeding women and children.

For HRSA’s response to grantee frequently asked questions, please see the HRSA Grantee Frequently Asked Questions page.

HRSA's Coronavirus (COVID-19) Information page includes more federal resources and FAQs from other HRSA Bureaus.

Please continue to check this page for updates and contact your Project Officer directly with any questions not addressed below.
 

Below you will find FAQs on:

 

Title V Maternal and Child Health Services Block Grant

How can Title V MCH Block Grant programs contribute to the nationwide effort addressing COVID-19?
During evolving public health situations, state and territorial Title V programs are poised to provide infrastructural and leadership support to improve the health of mothers, children, and families.  One of the strengths of the Title V program is its role in conducting ongoing assessment of maternal and child health (MCH) population needs and in implementing science-based approaches to address current and emerging issues.

What are some ways for states to adapt Title V funding to support COVID-19 programs?
Title V MCH Block Grant funds allow states to redirect these funds to support a state’s needs in responding to an evolving issue, such as COVID-19.  Potential responses may include:

  • Offering the support or leadership of Title V epidemiologists, in partnership with other state staff, to an outbreak investigation.
  • Providing support in educating the MCH population about COVID-19 through partnerships with other state agencies, medical providers, and health care organizations.
  • Working closely with state and local emergency preparedness staff to assure that the needs of the MCH population are represented.
  • Funding infrastructure that supports the response to COVID-19. For example, Public Health Nurses who are routinely supported through the Title V program may be able to be mobilized, using Title V funds or separate emergency funding, to support a call center or deliver health services.
  • Partnering with parent networks and health care providers to provide accurate and reliable information to all families.
  • Engaging community leaders, including faith-based leaders, to educate community members about strategies for preventing illness.

Do states need to seek prior approval to use Title V funds for a COVID-19 program?
As long as the expenditure of MCH block grant funds is in accordance with your state/jurisdiction’s fiscal policies and regulations and also consistent with the MCH block grant statute (e.g., 30/30/10 funding restrictions), you do not need to seek prior approval to use Title V funds as part of the COVID-19 response.  Please keep your Project Officer apprised of your efforts, as you are able.

How are Title V MCH Block Grant programs responding to COVID-19?
For questions about how Title V Maternal and Child Health Block Grant programs are responding to the COVID-19 in each state, grantees may refer to the list of Title V state contacts available on TVIS for state-specific contact information.

Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting (MIECHV) Program

Can MIECHV funds to be used to keep wages and benefits steady for LIA staff to ensure continuity of service?
HRSA recognizes that many state and local programs are facing disruptions to service delivery, including temporary closings of MIECHV-funded LIAs during the COVID-19 public health emergency. HRSA remains committed to ensuring MIECHV-funded activities continue with the least disruption possible to mothers, children, and families during this time, including the use of alternative service delivery strategies, in alignment with model fidelity standards. MIECHV funds must continue to be used to support approved activities within the scope of the MIECHV grant. Approved MIECHV activities may include funding for staff salaries and benefits for staff performing work under the grant. Please note that MIECHV grant funding cannot be used to support salary costs for MIECHV-funded staff that are reassigned to non-MIECHV duties. Contact your Project Officer and Grants Management Specialist if you have any questions regarding appropriate use of grant funds.

Are MIECHV staff allowed to be reassigned to support COVID-19 response?
If MIECHV-funded staff are reassigned to support non-MIECHV state and/or local emergency response efforts, they may not continue to be paid with MIECHV funds. All MIECHV funding must support approved MIECHV activities. Note: Some emergency response activities, such as assisting families in emergency planning and providing parenting and other supports during this time of social isolation, are within the scope of the MIECHV grant. Please reach out to your project officer and/or grants management specialist for clarification if needed. If MIECHV-funded staff are reassigned to support state or local level response efforts, please inform your project officer and if key personnel have been reassigned, identify an appropriate alternative point of contact to ensure continuity of communication.

How will home visiting programs be expected to manage performance measurement and reporting?
HRSA recognizes that this is a challenging time and the COVID-19 public health emergency is impacting home visiting service delivery in multiple ways, including the suspension of home visiting or alternative approaches to conducting visits. Performance measurement and reporting remain key hallmarks of learning and accountability for the MIECHV Program. Fiscal Year 2020 performance data, including participants served, benchmark performance measures, and caseload capacity data will be reviewed and interpreted with the recognition that many programs will continue to experience major service delivery disruptions. Even with the growing availability of virtual home visits, lower caseloads and interrupted service are to be expected in many locations and programs. We encourage all awardees to continue to use all available flexibilities and work with their state and local partners and model developers to continue to provide services to families, as best you can. Please reach out to your HRSA Project Officer if you have any additional questions or concerns.

How are states supporting home visiting services while maintaining social distancing as a COVID-19 safety precaution?
HRSA is aware of the impacts the COVID-19 public health emergency has and will continue to have on service delivery to families. We understand that some states have suspended face-to-face home visits to protect the health and safety of families and recommend the use of telephone and/or video communication in lieu of face to face home visits. 

Are alternative methods to conduct home visits consistent with home visiting service delivery model fidelity standards?
A number of home visiting service delivery models have disseminated guidance to states and local organizations related to precautions and safeguards recommended during a public health emergency. Model developer guidance may indicate that use of telephone and/or video technology to maintain contact with families during an emergency is consistent with model fidelity standards. 

Can face to face home visits be suspended at this time?
During the COVID-19 public health emergency, HRSA encourages awardees and local implementing agencies (LIAs) to follow CDC, state and local health department, and model guidance, and supports appropriate use of alternate methods to conduct home visits in alignment with model fidelity standards. Please alert your Project Officer if the state and/or LIAs suspend home visits and/or temporarily change the service delivery strategy. Follow model developer guidance about definitions of completed home visits for the purposes of performance reporting, if service delivery adaptations are being instituted.

Temporary Reassignment of Personnel During a Declared Public Health Emergency

Can a state or local public health department reassign personnel to address COVID-19 emergency needs?
Temporary reassignment of personnel during a declared public health emergency is addressed in a provision in the Pandemic and All-Hazards Preparedness and Advancing Innovation Act of 2019, which applies to programs authorized under the Public Health Service (PHS) Act.

During a declared federal public health emergency, a Governor of a state, local or tribal organization or their designee may request to temporarily reassign state and local public health department, tribal, or agency personnel funded in whole or in part through programs authorized under the PHS Act to immediately address a public health emergency in the state or Indian tribe during the period of the emergency. Note, this provision is only applicable to state, tribal, and local public health department or agency personnel whose positions are funded, in full or part, under PHS Act programs.

MCHB-funded programs that may be impacted by this provision include:

  • Early Hearing Detection and Intervention Programs/Universal Newborn Hearing Screening Program - Public Health Service Act, Title II, Section 399M (42 U.S.C. 280g-1)
  • Pediatric Mental Health Care Access Program - Public Health Service Act, Title III, Section 330M (42 U.S.C. § 254c-19)
  • Screening and Treatment for Maternal Depression and Other Related Disorders Programs - Public Health Service Act, Title III, Part B, Section 317L-1 (42 U.S.C. 247b-13a)
  • Healthy Start Programs - Public Health Service Act, Title III, Part D, Section 330H (42 U.S.C. 254c-8)
    • Healthy Start Initiative: Eliminating Disparities in Perinatal Health
    • Addressing and Preventing Lead Exposure Through Healthy Start
  • Newborn Screening - Public Health Service Act, Title XI, Sections 1109-1112 (42 U.S.C. 300b-8 -- 300b-11)
    • Quality Improvement in Newborn Screening Program
    • NBS State Evaluation Program
    • Regional Genetics Networks
  • Emergency Medical Services for Children - Public Health Service Act, Title XIX, Section 1910 (42 U.S.C. 300w-9)
    • EMSC State Partnership Grants
    • EMSC Targeted Issue Grant

Learn more about the temporary reassignment provision at:

General MCHB Grantee Information

How should grantees approach travel for grant-funded meetings?
HRSA’s MCHB understands that this is a public health emergency and that some grant activities, including those requiring travel, may be postponed. Please talk with your Project Officer regarding alternative approaches to planned activities. 

How should grantees address additional concerns about the impact of COVID-19 on fulfilling the terms of a MCHB award?  
If grantees have questions about how COVID-19 might impact their ability to comply with the terms of their MCHB funding, they should provide as much information as possible to their Project Officer. MCHB will work with the grantee to determine next steps to address the concern. Please continue to check this page for updates.

Date Last Reviewed:  March 2020