FRF is the largest and most flexible source of American Rescue Plan Act funds to help states, counties, cities and Tribal governments cover increased expenditures, replenish lost revenue and mitigate economic harm from the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Coronavirus State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds provide substantial flexibility for each jurisdiction to meet local needs within these four separate eligible use categories. Guidance documents and the Final Rule expressly allow funds for courts and legal aid providers. Recipients can use funds to cover costs incurred by December 31, 2024.
Recipients may use FRF funds to:
- Replace lost public sector revenue, using this funding to provide government services up to the amount of revenue lost due to the pandemic
- Respond to the far-reaching public health and negative economic impacts of the pandemic, by supporting the health of communities, and helping households, small businesses, impacted industries, nonprofits, and the public sector recover from economic impacts
- Provide premium pay for essential workers, offering additional support to those who have and will bear the greatest health risks because of their service in critical sectors
- Invest in water, sewer, and broadband infrastructure,making necessary investments to improve access to clean drinking water, to support vital wastewater and stormwater infrastructure, and to expand affordable access to broadband internet
Treasury issued its Final Rule for the FRF program – which took effect on April 1, 2022 – to provide increased flexibility for recipients to pursue a wider range of uses, as well as greater simplicity in administration. As reflected in the Final Rule and the Interim Final Rule Frequently Asked Questions (reflecting the actual Final Rule language), both the courts and legal aid providers can tap FRF funds including, e.g.:
- FAQ 2.19 states that recipients can use FRF for the courts to reduce backlogs: “Therefore, steps to reduce these backlogs, such as implementing COVID-19 safety measures to facilitate court operations, hiring additional court staff or attorneys to increase speed of case resolution, and other expenses to expedite case resolution are eligible uses.”
- FAQ 2.21 explains how funds can be used for eviction prevention efforts and housing stability services, and notes that: “This also includes legal aid such as legal services or attorney’s fees related to eviction proceedings and maintaining housing stability, court-based eviction prevention or eviction diversion programs, and other legal services that help households maintain or obtain housing. Recipients may transfer funds to, or execute grants or contracts with, court systems, non- profits, and a wide range of other organizations to implement these strategies.
- FAQ 4.8 also mentions courts in response to a question about using funds to prevent and respond to crime, and support public safety: “In all communities, recipients may use resources to … restore law enforcement and courts to their pre-pandemic levels. Additionally, Funds can be used for expenses to address COVID-related court backlogs, including hiring above pre-pandemic levels, as a response to the public health emergency.”
- The commentary to the Final Rule also allows for, in certain circumstances, “…capital expenditures in government administration buildings, such as public courthouses, as well as technology infrastructure that would allow for remote delivery of public benefits.”
Administering Federal Agency
U.S. Department of the Treasury
Find Your State/Local Administrator
The National Conference of State Legislatures tracks FRF spending in a searchable database here. The last column – “Source” – provides some information about your jurisdiction’s FRF decisionmakers.
Amount of Available Funding
To find examples of courts and/or their justice partners receiving these funds, click on the PDF.
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