$6.9 million federal injection for health services, child care services, education

By John McPhaul

Resident Commissioner Jenniffer González Colón announced on Monday the approval of $6.9 million in federal funds allocated by various offices of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the federal Department of Transportation (DOT) for health services, child care services and education.

HHS, through the Health Resources and Services Administration, allocated $3.1 million to the Puerto Rico Department of Health for health services for mothers and infants.

The Administration for Children and Families, under the HHS’ Office of Head Start, allocated $671,344 in federal funds to the Family Strengthening Center, ESCAPE, within the category of social services for Early Head Start. These funds are final and only the date of their disbursement by the agency remains pending, which varies depending on the program.

The Office of Family and Youth Services of the Administration for Children and Families allocated $200,000 to the Center for Youth Services Inc. for basic health services, and $445,831 to the Central University of the Caribbean Inc. under the category of health services for the Healthy and Positive Engagement Education project within the educational program to avoid sexual risks.

The Medical Sciences Campus of the University of Puerto Rico (UPR) will receive $100,000 from the National Institute of Allergies and Infectious Diseases under the Allergy, Immunology, and Transplantation Research program. The Ponce School of Medicine will receive $1.4 million from the National Institute of Minority Health and Health Disparities for the Epidemiological Intelligence Network, or EpI-Net, project “to promote preventive practices and COVID-19 detection tests among socially vulnerable [citizens] in Puerto Rico,” the resident commissioner said.

NOAA, in collaboration with the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF), allocated $596,268 to the UPR Aguadilla campus as part of the 2020 National Coastal Resilience Fund: Using Mangrove Restoration to Improve Coastal Community Resilience in Puerto Rico. This allocation of funds will help restore the areas most vulnerable to hurricanes and those that were greatly affected by the 2017 hurricanes.

The resident commissioner previously sent a letter to the NFWF showing her support for the project and how it would be of great benefit to the island.

Likewise, NOAA and NFWF will work together to allocate $234,317 to The Ocean Foundation under the 2020 Electronic Monitoring and Reporting Program: Electronic Monitoring for the Caribbean Small Boat Highly Migratory Species Fishery (PR), a project whose aim is to help improve the monitoring of small vessels in order to collect data for various fish markets on the island.

The federal DOT, meanwhile, under the Dwight David Eisenhower Transportation Fellowship Program, assigned a total of $66,000 to nine students from different universities, public and private, on the island.

The purpose of the program is to offer financial aid to students interested in pursuing a career in disciplines related to the transportation field. It assigned funds to various educational institutions on the island.

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