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Pandemic Aid Available for Former Foster Youth in WA

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SEATTLE – Foster care alumni in Washington state have one month left to apply for pandemic aid.

As part of a large relief package in Congress last year, Washington is distributing $1.65 million to people who were dependents of the state or tribal foster-care programs after their 15th birthday. They now must be between ages 23 and 26.

Dawn Rains, chief policy and strategy officer at Treehouse, an organization helping the state’s Department of Children, Youth, and Families distribute funds, said recipients will receive $1,000 at a crucial time.

“We know that many of them struggle in the transition to adulthood,” she said. “They don’t have the same kinds of safety nets of families to help with their transition, either through the education, post-high school education, or into the world of employment.”

Rains noted that folks are eligible even if they weren’t in foster care in Washington state. She said they’ve reached about 400 people so far of the 2,800 known to be eligible in the state. The deadline to apply is Sept. 30.

Rains said there’s a lot of flexibility for how the $1,000 can be used, adding what a difference this amount of money can make.

“We’re so hopeful that this is going to help people stay housed, to get food that they need, to maintain going to school, if that is their path,” she said.

Rains said she sees it as a critical investment for people who have been in foster care.

“They are the young people for whom the state became parent,” she said, “and we have a special responsibility to help make sure that they make a successful transition to young adulthood – both for them personally and for all of us.”

Featured photo: Congress is providing more than $400 million to current and former foster youths through a pandemic aid program. (elizabeth lara/EyeEm/Adobe Stock)

Eric Tegethoff is a journalist covering the Northwest. Eric has worked as a reporter for KBOO, XRAY FM, and Oregon Public Broadcasting in Portland, Oregon, as well as other print and digital news media. In 2012, Eric traveled to North Dakota to write about the Bakken region oil boom. He's also worked at a movie theater, as a campaign canvasser and quality assurance at a milk packaging factory. Eric is originally from Orlando, Florida. He graduated from the University of Florida in 2010.

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