News & Resources

Basic Needs Support:

Q: Can we use basic needs support fund to pay for gift cards?
A: Yes, gift cards are an allowable cost. However, basic needs support is intended to meet a specific need for each family. In order to provide basic needs support in any form, staff will need to work with a family to assess and identify a specific need and document that the support matches the need identified.
Q: Can I use a delivery service like Amazon, HEB or Walmart to deliver items to a family rather than delivering items in person?
A: Yes, delivery of services is allowable, but documentation of receipt of goods is still needed. This can be a signature, an email or text confirmation from the family, a picture of the items delivered. In addition, please document the consent of the family to have items delivered - for some families home delivery raises safety or privacy concerns.

Basic Needs Summary

  • $250 maximum per family
  • Ensure the families’ needs are assessed, and basic needs support matches the immediate need identified for the family
  • Document family consent to 3rd part delivery when needed
  • Document family receipt of items

Staff Pay and Organizational Response

Q: Our agency is partially closed, staff roles are evolving rapidly, and many staff are working on COVID-19 response teams or are working on different projects or efforts than they were before. How do I know if I can continue to get reimbursed for their salaries?
A: Our grantees and providers are positioned to provide critical support to families in their communities in times of crisis and hardship. PEI acknowledges that work will have to change to meet immediate needs of families and to navigate required social distancing measures during this time. PEI has shared a list of allowable activities organizations may consider incorporating into their project work plans when their original plans are no longer viable.

While your organization may continue to engage and support families, staff may need to adjust work schedules to accommodate children at home or illness. These issues should be addressed according to your organization’s leave policies, and in coordination with your organization’s legal and program leadership. PEI will allow sites to be reimbursed for PTO and other emergency-related leave for staff affected by COVID-19 per their specific leave policy.

Many PEI providers and grantees employ health care and mental health professionals that may be called upon to provide health care services as part of emergency response teams. In order to give organizations time to make appropriate adjustments, PEI will continue to reimburse for these staff hours through April 30th, 2020. PEI staff will work with organizations to talk through budget implications and required changes after April 30th to shift salary costs of these redeployed staff to other funding streams should their health care services be required for ongoing emergency response.

In all cases where staff roles are changing, hours are changing or work efforts are changing, please continue to document these changes and the services and costs in your project work plan or through alternative methods discussed with your program specialist.

Modifying some contract/model requirements for family meetings

Q: Our contract and/or the Evidence Based Model we use with families requires face-to-face contact or requires meetings with families to be a certain length of time in order to “count” as a session. This isn’t always possible in the current circumstance, or families are asking for a different approach (more frequent, shorter calls, virtual/video calls, less emphasis on curriculum and more emphasis on case management or basic needs). What do we do?
A: During this emergency period, PEI recognizes that families and organizations need maximum flexibility in order to be responsive to the needs of each community. We strongly encourage continued outreach, engagement and service provision through virtual means, like phone calls, texts/emails, video conferencing and web-based discussion platforms.

As you continue to perform the critical work of serving our most vulnerable Texans, we want to make sure you have the information and tools you need.  Many cities and counties have entered shelter in place orders. Attached is a letter from Governor Abbott, on official letterhead, explaining that orders issued by local officials do not apply to state employees and agents. For many PEI providers, there are many activities that can be modified to engage families virtually. However, there are some contract work efforts that may require workers to be out of their homes in order to provide services to vulnerable families. These types of activities may include:

  • Delivering basic needs supplies
  • Delivering educational materials for children home from early childhood learning or school environments
  • Providing counseling, home visiting or case management to families with limited connectivity, phone service or internet access.

When engaging in this type of work in areas with shelter in place orders, you may want to carry the attached letter, or a similar letter from your agency, outlining the purpose of your engagement and work. 

While we work with grantees and providers to better assess family and community requests and needs in the coming weeks, PEI understands there may be changes needed to current requirements, model fidelity guidelines and to implementing required session criteria (length of session, location of session, etc.). Some providers are reaching out to families to connect, check-in and assess ongoing engagement during this time. We are working to determine how to categorize and document this kind of service, while distinguishing this work from providing a home visit, a counseling session or a more comprehensive service.

We will continue to share direction from our federal funders and the evidence based model developers, and ask that PEI providers continue to work with families to identify specific needs, and to be responsive to the families’ requests, including shortening or lengthening sessions, or focusing on case management or basic needs support. We will continue to assess the situation and will provide updated guidance in the coming weeks.

If you have any questions or concerns, please email us at the PEI News box.