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New federal law extends relief to foster youth in Arizona amid pandemic

(Pexels photo)

PHOENIX – Current and former foster youth that aged out of the system are now eligible to receive additional support during the COVID-19 pandemic with the help of a new federal law.

The COVID-19 Response and Relief Supplement Appropriations Act adds support for young adults currently in foster care and former foster youth who have not yet turned 27 years old.

“This provides additional opportunities for young people who have experienced foster care but left due to their age during the pandemic,” Barbara Duillen, permanency and youth services manager with the Arizona Department of Child Safety (DCS), told KTAR News 92.3 FM on Tuesday.

The recently passed act allows any youth that aged out of foster care since January 2020 to re-enter DCS’ Extended Foster Care Program.

Re-entry into the extended foster care program for youth recently aged out is open now through Sept. 30, 2021, with relief funds available until depleted.

The funding can be used toward housing, education, employment services, tutoring and more.

To qualify, young adults within the foster system must:

  • Be 18 years old, but not yet 27 years old.
  • Have been in foster care at 14 or older or are currently in foster care.
  • Be a resident of Arizona.
  • Have an identified need which is identified under the Supporting Foster Youth and Families through the Pandemic Act.

As of Tuesday, Duillen reported 355 requests for support from young people through their portal on the DCS website.

Arizona DCS has identified over 175 young people who are currently able to reenter services and is reaching out to those who are eligible.

Anyone eligible to reenter the foster system is encouraged to email the department to have their case re-opened.

Qualified youth ages 14 to 27 can directly apply for funding online.

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