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

COVID-19 Response

How is MCHB responding to the impact of COVID-19 on Maternal and Child Health (MCH) populations?

We are taking the following actions:

Meeting Emerging Needs

To strengthen the MCH public health system, and make sure we provide essential services to those who need it most, we continue to:

Shift how health services are provided:

Examples include:

Improve data collection, analysis, and surveillance to help develop better interventions.

For example, we are:

  • Adding COVID-19-related questions to the annual National Survey of Children’s Health, the largest national and state-level survey on the health and health care needs of children, their families, and their communities;
  • Working with the U.S. Census Bureau to expand content in the Household Pulse survey, which collects data on how COVID-19 has impacted people’s lives.  These questions will help us understand the pandemic’s impact on children’s access to health care and on how families access to child care;
  • Supporting the Pediatric Emergency Care Applied Research Network (PECARN)—a current grantee—to gather data about children’s admissions to emergency departments during the pandemic.

Partner with other federal agencies and national organizations to coordinate our response.

For example, we:

  • Host town halls, facilitated through the Association of Maternal and Child Health Programs (AMCHP), to work with our grantees and key partners at the federal, state, and local levels;
  • Issued a joint letter with the Administration for Children and Families encouraging family support programs to promote prevention and family strengthening strategies virtually and through other safe means during the COVID-19 pandemic;
  • Issued a joint letter (PDF - 76 KB) with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to ensure continued promotion and delivery of pediatric immunizations;

Funding Telehealth Expansion

Through the 2020 Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act, we awarded new funding that builds infrastructure for telehealth and supports training health care workers to provide high-quality service through telehealth. Funding includes:

  • $6 million for Pediatric Care for all Children and Youth, including Children with Special Health Care Needs;
  • $4 million for Pregnancy Care;
  • $4 million for Newborn Screening and Early Childhood Home Visiting;
  • $1 million for Telehealth Access Training for families of children with special health care needs and national family organizations.

Supporting vaccination, testing, contact tracing, and slowing the spread

We work to slow the spread of COVID-19 through:

  • State Public Health agencies may choose to use Title V funds to support activities that might include, but are not limited to, contact tracing (including case investigation and monitoring), testing, direct patient care, and case management for people with COVID.  Agencies may develop guidance and policies for child care providers and schools to safely reopen. Connect to Title V State Contacts.
  • Maternal, Infant and Early Childhood Home Visiting (MIECHV) Program home visitors and Healthy Start program staff provide education and information to families. They educate pregnant women and families with young children on preventing the spread of COVID-19 and where to get tested and vaccinated.   
  • The Leadership Education in Adolescent Health (LEAH) program trains health care workers to educate adolescent patients worried about receiving the vaccine. Some trainees are researching why young people are hesitant to get the vaccine.
  • The Telehealth Family Engagement Initiative helps families with children who have special health care needs get virtual care.
  • The Children with Medical Complexity Program provides virtual mentoring to health care and public health professionals in ensuring safe service delivery for the children.

Frequently Asked Questions

Below you will find Frequently Asked Questions relevant to MCHB Grantees.

Please also refer to:

For grantees: Please continue to check this page for updates and contact your Project Officer directly with any questions not addressed in the FAQs.

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. Refer 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 pregnancy and on children, teens, and young adults. The Administration of Community Living provides information for people with disabilities and their caregivers. 

Title V Maternal and Child Health Services Block Grant

The Title V program’s role includes:

  • Monitoring maternal and child health (MCH) population needs
  • 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?

The Title V MCH Block Grant allows states to redirect funds. Potential responses may include:

  • Epidemiology support: Title V epidemiologists can provide expertise to state outbreak investigations.
  • Partnerships: Partnerships with other state agencies, medical providers, and health care organizations to help educate the MCH population about COVID-19.
  • Emergency preparedness: Working closely with state and local emergency preparedness staff to make sure that the needs of the MCH population are represented.
  • Infrastructure support: Funding infrastructure to support COVID-19 response. For example, allowing Public Health Nurses who are routinely supported by Title V funds to support a call center or deliver health services.
  • Communication support: Partnering with parent networks and health care providers to provide accurate and reliable information to all families.
  • Community engagement: Engaging community leaders, including faith-based leaders, to educate people about strategies for preventing illness.
  • Vaccine Distribution: Support efforts to inform providers and families about the availability and accessibility of COVID-19 vaccinations for MCH populations.
  • Contact Tracing: Conducting contact tracing and case investigations to help stop the spread and support data collection.

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?

We recommend you reach out directly to states for state-specific information. Please refer to MCHB’s list of Title V state contacts for contact information. 

Children and Youth with Special Health Care Needs (CYSHCN)

What resources are available for CYSHCN or individuals with disabilities?

Several federal agencies posted information online focused on CYSHCN and/or individuals with disabilities that grantees and stakeholders may find helpful.  Some of these resources include:

HHS: Resources on federal programs to sustain nutrition for at-risk individuals (PDF - 352 KB), including families of children with special health care needs and/or disabilities.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC):

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS): A toolkit for partners on CMS and HHS materials available on COVID-19.

The Administration for Community Living (ACL): Information and resources for people with disabilities and older adults related to COVID-19.

The HHS Office for Civil Rights: A bulletin “Civil Rights, HIPAA, and the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) (PDF - 1921 KB)” on HHS’s commitment to leaving no one behind during an emergency and reminders to prohibit discrimination in HHS-funded programs.

The U.S. Department of Education: Information and resources for schools and school personnel, including resources on providing services to children with disabilities, addressing the risk of COVID-19 in schools while protecting students’ civil rights.

Families and caregivers have been contacting us seeking resources for coping during this challenging time. Are there any available federal resources to share?

CDC provides several resources for daily life and coping, including a household checklist available in 5 languages, taking care of children, talking to children about COVID-19, and information if you have animals.

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA):

Office of the Assistant Secretary of Preparedness and Response (ASPR): Resources to support mental and behavioral health.

Our program is trying to identify available information to support youth and young adults during the COVID-19 public health emergency. Where can I get more information related to the needs of youth and young adults?

The Interagency Working Group on Youth Programs (IWGYP) includes representatives from 21 federal agencies that support programs and services focusing on youth. IWGYP provides resources to support youth and families during the COVID-19 outbreak on topics including childcare, education, nutrition, health/mental health, and safety.

The IWGYP also sponsors the Youth Engaged 4 Change (YE4C) website and related social media with youth-focused resources and opportunities related to COVID-19. 

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.

  • Temporary Reassignments apply 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:

Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response’s (ASPR) Guidance for Temporary Reassignment of State and Local Personnel during a Public Health Emergency

HRSA’s Grants Policy Bulletin for Availability for Temporary Reassignment of State, Tribal, and Local Personnel during a Declared Public Health Emergency (PDF - 193 KB)

General MCHB Grantee Information

How should grantees approach travel for grant-funded meetings?

We understand 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 the next steps to address the concern.

Some aspects of our approved grant project are going to be delayed or modified as a result of the COVID-19 emergency.  Do I need to get approval from HRSA to make necessary adjustments in the approved grant project? Are there any types of adjustments that are allowable without seeking approval?

HRSA is working to provide recipients as much flexibility as possible to counteract the results or related effect of COVID-19.  Due to specific legislative requirements for individual grant programs, not all flexibilities may be extended to all recipients, and specific grant programs may have requirements or restrictions that prohibit, or limit, certain activities. Depending on the specific nature of the necessary adjustment, a Prior Approval such as a change in scope or re-budgeting request may require HRSA review and approval.

The Grants Management Specialist listed on the most recent Notice of Award is the appropriate point of contact for an initial inquiry. In all cases, recipients are required to maintain appropriate records and cost documentation (per 2 CFR § 200.302 -Financial management; 2 CFR § 200.333 -Retention requirement of records to substantiate the charging of any salaries and other project activities costs related to interruption of operations of services.

Date Last Reviewed:  March 2021