DCS pushes to disburse $7 million to former foster care children after months-long delay

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — Tennessee received $7.5 million dollars in stimulus money for youth who have aged out of the foster care system.

The latest numbers indicate over 300 people so far have applied for the funds. But the money is just now being rolled out.

“They need help, they need the support,” Courtney Matthews, Director of Independent Living for the Department of Children Services said.

July 31 is the deadline for Tennessee DCS foster care alumni to apply for the stimulus money.

“If you were in foster care at the age of 14 and now you’re between the age of 18-26, or if you aged out of foster care, or if you left foster care you can apply to re-enter foster care,” DCS Commissioner Jennifer Nichols said.

The money coming from the federal government in the ‘Consolidated Appropriations Act 2021’ was slowed due to legislative approval being needed. Tennessee has a part-time legislature.

“We have to expand our budget and so to expand our budget we have to put in a request to the legislature to expand it and they review the funds, and how the funds will be spent and then they give us permission,” Nichols said.

Now that the money is appropriated and approved, Commissioner Nichols has charged Matthews to sort through the applications.

“We have, we know over 10,000 young people that may be eligible between the age of 18 to 26,” Matthews said.

The funds, up to $1,200 per person, are intended to help qualified former foster care children amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

“This money is designed to help them with any mechanism that they need to be stable,” Matthews said. “Whether that’s paying rent, purchasing a car or paying their car note, groceries, you name it they can use this money for that.”

The deadline for money to be disbursed is September 30.

The department encourages anyone who qualifies to fill out an application here.

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