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Some foster youth may get direct payments for pandemic relief

Published: Jul. 28, 2021 at 9:49 PM CDT|Updated: Jul. 28, 2021 at 11:32 PM CDT
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MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) - Some foster youth may be eligible for direct payments from the federal government to help with pandemic recovery.

To be eligible for up to $6,000 in monthly direct payments, applicants must be Wisconsin residents and must age out of care between Jan. 27, 2020, and Sept. 30, 2021, according to the state Department of Children and Families (DCF).

“Aging out” refers to youth leaving the foster care system because they are too old. In Wisconsin, foster youth typically age out at 18 years old, with some exceptions.

As of Wednesday, about 450 foster youth are eligible for the direct payments, according to Gina Paige, DCF deputy communications director. Paige said she expects more to age out by September.

The funding follows the passage of the Supporting Foster Youth and Families Through the Pandemic Act in December 2020.

Paige described the challenges typically facing older foster youth: “They may not be able to lean on strong family networks that other young adults have relied on, especially to get through the pandemic.”

She continued, “Historically [foster youth] have been under employed and are usually in the service industry, so we’re looking at retail or restaurants, things of that nature, and those really have been impacted the hardest. This financial support is really critical to help fill those gaps.”

ShawnaRae Bruch, who was in the foster care system since she was a toddler, said she aged out at 18 and began living alone at 20. During the pandemic, she lost her job and was unemployed for three months.

“I had a hard time paying the bills,” she said. “It really got to the point where I had to decide which bill I needed to pay.”

While Bruch isn’t eligible for these set of payments, she said she plans to apply for other assistance.

“I wouldn’t wish this life on anyone, but I’m glad it was dealt to me because I’m here today and I’m very thankful,” she said.

To find out if foster youth are eligible to receive COVID-19 relief funds, click here.

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