What is Check for Us?

Check For Us is a National Outreach Campaign to reconnect foster youth with necessary and available resources and opportunities. Through this groundbreaking campaign, Think of Us, a non-profit centered around systems change, is connecting current and former foster youth with critical resources including job opportunities, housing vouchers, direct cash assistance, and emergency aid opportunities needed to prevent homelessness, keep families together, and provide funds for food and basic needs, and beyond.

What are Pandemic Relief Funds?

Pandemic Relief Funds are also known as “Chafee Funds” which are federal dollars provided tostates to directly support foster youth. The program is intended to serve youth who are likely to remain in foster care until age 18, youth who, after attaining 16 years of age, have left foster care for kinship guardianship or adoption, and young adults ages 18-21 who have "aged out" of the foster care system. Educational Training Vouchers, or ETV, are also a part of the Chafee program. Each year, states are in charge of choosing how exactly to distribute the regularly allocated $185M across the two programs. This year, we’re helping! For more context: Congress decided to step in after learning about the devastating impact COVID-19 was having on current and former foster youth. They agreed to provide $400 million in additional emergency funds to states through a program called the John H. Chafee Foster Care Independence Program. The dollars have to be spent by September 30, 2021, so states are urgently trying to connect with eligible youth.

What is the purpose of the campaign?

The campaign seeks to find and connect current and former foster youth with states in an effort to ensure emergency aid reaches the young people that need it the most. The campaign is leveraging the release of additional Pandemic Relief Funds to connect current and former foster youth with various resources aimed at preventing homelessness, keeping families together, and providing funds for food and basic needs.

What is the process for distributing Pandemic Relief Funds?

State child welfare teams are preparing rapidly and the lack of technology, aging infrastructure, and bureaucratic processes present a daunting challenge for states to get aid to as many youth as possible. Because of this concern, Think of Us is supporting states and other local and national organizations to find and connect with those eligible before the September 30, 2021 deadline by which all funds must be disbursed.

Who qualifies for Pandemic Relief Funds?

While state requirements are often specific and may have disqualifying parameters, here are the current federal requirements: * Children and youth in foster care between ages 14-26 * Youth who aged out of foster care and are between 18-26 * Children and youth who left foster care at 16 or older for kinship guardianship or adoption, until they reach 26 * Children and youth who had been in foster care between 14-26 and left foster care for some other reason besides aging out of foster care, kinship guardianship, or adoption. * Children likely to remain in care until 18, pertaining to the Chafee purpose area of providing “regular, ongoing opportunities to engage in age or developmentally- appropriate activities.”

Is there an age limit to access Pandemic Relief Funds?

Yes. In most states, current and former foster youth between the ages of 14 and 26 qualify for Chafee Pandemic Relief Funds.

How does a young person access Pandemic Relief Funds?

Check For Us will ensure that states are able to reach youth at the scale needed to meet their urgent needs and the program requirements. Through the National Campaign, young people are able to securely sign up on the campaign website and Think of Us will share their information directly with states to maximize the reach.

Who’s involved in Check For Us?

There are a number of local and national organizations participating in Check For Us. You can view a complete list of participating organizations on the "ABOUT" page of the campaign website.

Who is Think of Us?

Founded in 2017 and led by former foster youth, Think Of Us has a track record of centering lived experience and creating trust and connection. As a highly respected and trusted organization across the child welfare ecosystem, Think of Us is leveraging technology in unprecedented ways and providing access to resources never before available and creating new paths of support for foster youth.

What will an eligible recipient receive?

Eligibility is state specific and many states are still determining how the money can be spent, and how they will provide access to it. This is why Think of Us is jumping in! Think of Us will collect your information and share with the states directly so you are first in line - and we will communicate with you directly via text and email as we capture the specific state to state information so you know what to expect - and when to expect it.

What will my state’s plan be?

Some states have announced final plans whereas others are still determining them. Think of Us will share information with youth in the coming weeks as it becomes available. For now, here are a few examples of how states might allocate the additional funding: Iowa: partnering with service providers such as YSS to provide direct payment to young adults aged 18 to 26 who aged out of foster care with a direct pandemic relief payment of $750. Utah: working with Amazon to set up “transition to the living” link in which those eligible will receive an electronic voucher that can be spent on Amazon; items are chosen from a list and shipped directly to the youth. Montana: payments will be made directly to providers for eligible expenses including, but not limited to: rent (including pre-payment for up to one year), tuition and student loans.

How can I help?

As we work to hit the September 30th deadline, we need your support! Here are threee ways you can help: 1) Join the Network - sign up and become a part of our growing network here! 2) Share the Campaign - Become a Social Media Champion by sharing the campaign with your friends, colleagues and networks. You can access digital assets here. 3) Donate! I don't know any foster youth, how else can I help? 1) You might know someone who knows someone, share anyways. 2) Share with a teacher, coach, tutor, or anyone else who is likely to be interacting with youth.

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