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Young people formerly in foster care may qualify for pandemic relief

For Immediate Release: Thursday, July 1, 2021
DSS Media Contact: Steve Long, steve.long@state.sd.us or 605.773.5465

Young people formerly in foster care may qualify for pandemic relief

PIERRE – Young people between the ages of 18-27 who were previously in foster care may be eligible for COVID-19 financial relief and some can choose to re-enter foster care.

The Department of Social Services (DSS) Independent Living Program is set to receive more than $1.5 million in federal pandemic funding to help meet these needs. The money is intended to protect and support youth and young adults currently in or formerly in foster care.

Young people who left foster care due to age during the pandemic may be eligible to receive financial assistance based on their individual needs. Some have the option to voluntarily re-enter care which includes case management and placement assistance if necessary.

“After transitioning out of foster care, many young people lack access to financial resources including stable housing and income that may be available to youth in intact families,” said DSS Cabinet Secretary Laurie Gill. “We want to give these young people the best start possible in their adult lives.”

Youth who either have or plan to transition out of foster care due to age during the Covid-19 pandemic can choose to re-enter foster care. For the purposes of this financial relief, the pandemic is considered to be October 1, 2019 through September 30, 2021.

 Foster care refers to youth who were in the custody of the Department of Social Services while living with a relative, foster family, group home, residential treatment program, emergency shelter, or supervised independent living.

Anyone who thinks they may be eligible should contact a Community Resource Person (CRP) at one of three regional Lutheran Social Services (LSS) offices across the state. LSS contracts with DSS to assist youth with the transition from foster care to living independently. The CRP can answer questions and determine eligibility.

For more information call 605.791.6733 or visit the Independent Living Program page at dss.sd.gov/childprotection/independentlivingprogram.