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Teens, young adults in foster system eligible for grants

(AP) — Mississippi teenagers and young adults who have spent time in the foster care system are now eligible for federal grants worth thousands of dollars to help pay for school, a car or other expenses.

The money is part of $3.3 million allocated to Mississippi through federal COVID-19 pandemic assistance funds. Any Mississippi resident between the ages of 14 to 26 years old who has spent at least one day in foster care after his or her 14th birthday can receive money, according to the Mississippi Department of Child Protection Services.

Individuals can receive grants for up to $12,000 for education tuition, room and board and up to $4,000 for transportation-related needs, like buying a car or getting a driver’s license. Money can also be spent on utility bills, groceries, technology purchases and medical expenses not already covered by health insurance or Medicaid.

The money will be distributed through the Mississippi Department of Child Protection Services. The almost 1,000 young people currently in Mississippi’s foster care system or those who have recently left will automatically receive some stipend. However, that does not preclude them from applying for additional aid, according to the state.

The funds are part of a $400 million package distributed to states nationally through the “Supporting Foster Youth and Families through the Pandemic Act” approved by Congress earlier in 2021.

In announcing the funds, federal Children’s Bureau officials said that the grants are meant to provide needed support to the many young people leaving foster care who lack access to stable housing, income and other resources.

Individuals can apply online or by calling 601-576-1634 or 601-576-1635 or emailing youth@mdcps.ms.gov. More information can be found on the state website.