Mississippi Department of Child Protective Services (MDCPS) will provide pandemic relief to former foster youth in the form of financial assistance.

Mississippi will receive a $3.3 million share of the Supporting Foster Youth and Families through the Pandemic Act approved by Congress in early 2021. This act allocated $400 million to address the “critical needs of youth and young adults who are or were formerly in foster care.”

Any Mississippi former foster youth as old as 26 who spent at least one day in foster care after his or her 14th birthday is eligible to apply for federal COVID Pandemic Assistance Funds.

MDCPS is automatically awarding base amount stipends 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 support/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

These funds can be used to supplement housing, educational and transportation expenses, as well as utility bills, groceries and other emergency assistance needs.

Youth can receive as much as $12,000 in federal money for education, tuition and room and board expenses and as much as $4,000 in transportation on assistance including help in buying a car or getting a driver’s license. Money is also available for technology purchases.

The act also allows former foster youth who are no longer in state custody to choose to re-enter foster care. Additionally, current foster youth do not have to leave foster care once they reach a certain age, under the act’s time-limited provisions. Youth do not have to be in foster care to receive the pandemic financial assistance, however.

Youth may apply for the federal money by calling: (601) 576-1634 or (601) 576-1635, emailing youth:mdcps.ms.gov, applying online at https://app.smartsheet.com/b/form/d02aa4f305ad4c3ebff 65884455de4ba or visiting www.mdcps.ms.gov.

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