The Mississippi Department of Child Protective Services is distributing $3.3 million in federal pandemic relief funds to current and former foster children.
According to MDCPS, any Mississippi youth aged 14 to 26 years old who has spent at least one day in foster care after their 14th birthday is eligible for federal COVID Pandemic Assistance Funds.
In a news release, the department explained that foster youth and former foster youth in Mississippi can receive funds to help with housing, education, transportation, utility bills, groceries and other emergency assistance needs. Individuals can receive up to $12,000 in federal money for education/tuition/room & board expenses and up to $4,000 in transpiration assistance including help in buying a car or getting a driver’s license. Money is also available for technology purchases.
If you meet the criteria, you may apply for the federal money by:
- Calling: 769-823-4608 or 601-502-7429
- Emailing: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Applying online: hps://app.smartsheet.com/b/form/d02aa4f305ad4c3ebff65884455de4ba
- Website for more info: www.mdcps.ms.gov
Mississippi’s $3.3 million share of the federal pandemic relief funds is part of a $400 million national appropriation in the “Supporting Foster Youth and Families through the Pandemic Act” approved by Congress earlier in 2021. In announcing the funds, the federal Children’s Bureau said the money will address the “critical financial needs of youth and young adults who are or were formerly in foster care.”
“Because many of these young people, since discharged from foster care, lack access to stable housing, income and other resources that may be available to youth and young adults in intact families, the funding and flexibilities provided by the Supporting Foster Youth and Families through the Pandemic Act are critical to ensuring youth are protected and supported,” the Children’s Bureau announced.
Pandemic assistance money can be used expenses including:
- Room and board/housing
- Driving and Transportation Assistance – including help in purchasing an automobile
- Living expenses – including rent, groceries, utilities
- Technology – including cell phones, tablets, laptops and internet service
- Medical expenses not already covered by other health insurance or Medicaid
- Education – including tuition, books, room/board and other school-related costs
The act also allows former foster youth (up to 22 years old) who are no longer in state custody to choose to re-enter foster care. Also, current foster youth do not have to leave foster care once they reach a certain age, under the Act’s me-limited provisions. Youth do not have to be in foster care to receive the pandemic financial assistance, however.
MDCPS is automatically awarding base amount spends to current and former foster youth. These funds do not require a youth to apply for support and do not disqualify a youth from seeking additional financial supports/relief. These funds are currently being distributed to almost 1,000 youth currently in foster care in Mississippi or who recently exited from Mississippi’s foster care system:
- $600 – for youth ages 14 and 15, currently in foster care in Mississippi
- $1,200 – for youth ages 16 and up, currently in foster care in Mississippi
- $1,200 – for youth up to age 26 who aged out of foster care in Mississippi since January 2020
“Funding under this program can be used as an opportunity support young people’s resilience and to create opportunities for economic, social and educational success,” Marcus Davenport, MDCPS director of permanency, said.