On Wednesday, February 24, 2021, Foster Club and the Juvenile Law Center cohosted a webinar to support state advocates successfully implementing funds from the Consolidated Appropriations Act. This webinar focused on how New Jersey implemented funds from the CARES Act to young people. New Jersey received $2.4 billion block grant to address emergent needs and New Jersey Department of Children and Families (NJ-DCF) applied to utilize the funding for Supporting Vulnerable Youth.
The COVID Relief Funds (CRF) for Youth provided a one time payment of $1,850 to approximately 1,100 youth. They collaborated with internal and external partners that they already had contracts. New Jersey distributed funds to three distinct groups of young adults 18 up to age 23, including young people working with New Jersey’s child welfare system with an open Child Protection and Permanency (CP&P) case, or in a DCF-contracted youth supportive housing program that were closed with CP&P, or that were a New Jersey Foster Scholar and closed with CP&P and were not in a DCF contracted youth supportive housing program.
In distributing funds to youth, New Jersey utilized contacted community-based providers. Eligible youth were required to sign and return an attestation verifying a COVID related economic hardship. Here are a few of the top recommendations and lessons learned from their experience:
- Outreach multiple times and ways (call, text, email) to youth regarding available funds
- Avoid paper checks if possible
- Build on existing systems, where possible
- Prepare for the audit up-front
- Let go of collecting receipts or worrying about how young people use the funds, provide them autonomy in decision making
- Don’t make young people jump through hoops to access funds
- Expect to encounter those who are not eligible for funds (Age, no child welfare background), know how to proceed
Additional resources from the webinar:
- Letter to Child Welfare and Independent Living (IL) Director to request to partner in the implementation process