Congress hasn’t been able to get together on a new coronavirus relief package for months, but at least some money from a previous one is on the way to nearly 1,200 transition-age foster youth in the state of New Jersey.
The Garden State’s Department of Children and Family Services announced this week that $2.2 million in financial aid is on its way to foster youth ages 18 to 23, most of whom have little or no reliable family support.
Each eligible youth is in line for a one-time payment of $1,850 to offset any economic hardship resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic, including joblessness, underemployment, housing loss or instability, transportation problems and debt.
“For youth who transition from our foster care system without reliable family connections, those challenges can be absolutely crushing,” said the department’s Commissioner Christine Norbut Beyer. “By utilizing federal COVID assistance, we can ensure these youth receive the support to promote well-being and economic stability during and following the public health emergency.”
The money is coming from the CARES Act, the massive $2 trillion federal economic stimulus bill passed in March that, among other things, sent direct payments to taxpayers and extended unemployment benefits. It also sent coronavirus relief funds to the states, which they could distribute at their discretion to needy people under certain guidelines.
This is the pot of money New Jersey tapped to help its transition-age foster youth.
In order to qualify for the payments, youth must be between the ages of 18 and 23 and experiencing a COVID-19-related economic hardship. They also must be currently in foster care through the Division of Child Protection and Permanency; a former foster youth in need of direct assistance; or living in state-contracted supportive housing.
The state will use existing infrastructure to deposit the money electronically in youths’ accounts.