State Takes Steps to Send Stimulus Checks to Older Foster Care Alumni
Source: Michigan’s Children, Speaking for Kids
The Whitmer Administration has started notifying foster care alumni – young people between the ages of 23 and 26 – of their plans to send stimulus checks of $1,000 to assist qualifying individuals in their recovery from the coronavirus pandemic. The development comes after young people who aged out of the state’s foster care system in recent years stepped up their advocacy before lawmakers and the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) over the Legislature’s inaction to accept and award $10.2 million in federal Chafee funds approved by Congress in late 2020. Most states have already distributed those relief dollars to older foster care alumni.
From our view, a major disappointment in Michigan’s response to the crisis for this special population is one that contrasts with other areas of the country. The federal legislation explicitly provided for young adults up to age 27 to return to care during the pandemic, ensuring not just needed resources and basic needs supports, but critical daily-life case management services that would have made a real difference in how they navigated the complexities of the pandemic. To hear from the young people themselves, please review a petition youth from foster care have organized around the issue. Hear the pleas of foster care alumni in this YouTube video addressing a Michigan DHHS representative in a meeting hosted by the Park West Foundation last Friday.
This week the Michigan DHHS said it will use nearly $500,000 in current Chafee funds to move ahead and begin helping older youth now. In an email to foster care advocates, Ann Rossi, an analyst with the MDHHS, confirmed that decision, adding the department is still hopeful the Legislature will approve the additional $10.2 million in coming weeks. She directed eligible youth who are now 23-26 (ends at 27) and had an open foster care case after their 14th birthday to take a survey to begin applying online. Staffers will then reach out to them to help register them in the state’s SIGMA system so payments can be processed.
“This is a positive step in a frustrating process,” said Matt Gillard, President & CEO of Michigan’s Children, which joined the youth in calls for Legislative action. “Across the board, the pandemic has hit everybody hard, but imagine trying to keep up on your education or hold onto a job, cover your monthly bills, and maintain food on the table, if you’ve recently left foster care and have no one – not family, not the state – to lean on. Out of foster care should not mean flat out of luck. Congress approved the pandemic relief, now the Legislature should act. We’ll be following this issue.”
Contact your State Senator to make sure that these funds are passed before they expire on September 30, 2021!
Established in 2006, Park West Foundation serves as the charitable arm of Park West Gallery, which inspires and supports Michigan’s youth who age out of the foster care system. To learn more about Park West Foundation, visit www.parkwestfoundation.org. If you’d like to discuss the Chaffee Pandemic Relief Funds with EFyTECH or the Park West Foundation, please contact Diane Pandolfi at firstname.lastname@example.org.