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Connecting current & former foster youth with pandemic relief funds

Most states are providing between $500 - $2,000 for current & former foster youth. Sign up to find out what your state is doing!

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Check For Us is a national outreach campaign run by current and former foster youth to simplify the process of connecting YOU with pandemic relief funds that you may be eligible for and other paid opportunities.

Current and former foster youth between the ages of 14-26 qualify for over $400 million in federal stimulus funds BUT you gotta apply before September 30, 2021.

 

Sign up to be a part of our online network that will provide you the right information about how you can get your money.

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SHARE THIS OPPORTUNITY WITH YOUR FRIENDS

Check For Us is here to to make sure YOU get your money.

While each state’s plan is different, the offerings range from direct cash payments of $500 - $2,000 to tuition and student loans payments to pre-paying your rent for an entire year.

With your permission, we'll share your contact with the people processing the funds in your state.

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Frequently Asked Questions

General FAQ

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.





California FAQ

Virtual Card Payment: I have only received a partial payment of $500 or $1000 - where are the remaining funds?


Cards had a maximum of $1000 - so they split payments into two cards. These cards were sent out simultaneously - one for $500 and another for $1000 and they will generally arrive within 24 hours of each other. If you only received one, please call Blackhawk’s customer service directly at 833.244.4356 and they can support you in finding the other virtual code.




Virtual Card Payment: I have not yet received my virtual card - when can I expect payment?


You can check your payment status in our web portal HERE.

  1. First, all applications will be reviewed and verified by September 30th - meaning if you are eligible, you will receive funds in September 2020.
  2. If your application has been verified, we pass your information on to our vendor, Blackhawk who issues payments on a weekly basis. We are in the process of setting up text message + email alerts when your application is verified.
  3. If your application is not yet verified (CDSS is in the process of working through ~7000 applications in the order received), please have patience. All applications will be reviewed by September 30th. We are in the process of setting up an online status check tool - we will email and text all applicants when available.




Physical Card Payment: I have not yet received my physical card - when can I expect payment?


You can check your payment status in our web portal HERE.

  1. Physical cards will begin to be mailed on Tuesday, September 7th to all verified applicants. These payments are issued on a weekly basis. We are in the process of setting up text message + email alerts when your application is verified.
  2. If your application is not yet verified (CDSS is in the process of working through ~7000 applications in the order received), please have patience. All applications will be reviewed by September 30th. We are in the process of setting up an online status check tool - we will email and text all applicants when available.




❗❗Important Note❗❗


Important to Note - this information reflects the most updated information Think of Us' has - as CDSS has new information, they will share with us directly and we will update this site immediately.




I do not remember if I requested a physical or a virtual card - how do I find out?


Visit our WEB PORTAL to check the status of your payment, including what type of card you requested.




I have received my card - where and how can I use my card?


Cards are accepted wherever Mastercard can be used. This includes being able to pay your bills with your card however, no recurring payment can be set up.




Can I transfer the funds from the card to another account (Venmo, bank account, etc.)?


Great question - we are looking into this request and will update with what is allowable as soon as we have more information.




I am not sure the address you have is current - where can I verify the information and update if needed?


If you HAVE NOT placed an order for a card, go to our WEB PORTAL to input a mailing address. If you HAVE placed an order for a virtual card, call Blackhawk’s customer service at 833-244-4356 to verify your mailing address.




I would like to change from a physical to a virtual card (or vice versa), how can I make that request?


If you HAVE NOT yet placed a card order: 1. Access our WEB PORTAL to request a change (virtual card or physical card), including entering a mailing address. 2. Change requests must be submitted by next Friday, September 17th. 3. CDSS will review and submit these orders the week of September 20th. If you HAVE placed an order for a VIRTUAL CARD: 1. Call Blackhawk Customer Service at 1-833-244-4356. 2. You can request a change to a PHYSICAL CARD for any remaining funds.

  • A PHYSICAL CARD will cost $4 (direct from your account) and will arrive in 5-8 days. It will be subject to ATM fees ($2.50 fee per withdrawal, limit of $500 per ATM transaction, limit 2 transactions per day).
  • LIMITATIONS: Virtual cards that have disputes, pending transactions, or returns may be delayed and/or require additional communication with Blackhawk Customer Service.




Is there an expiration date for when it must be set up?


There is a date on the front of the card and a year from this date is the expiration. At that time, you can extend the expiration date by calling Blackhawk’s customer service at 833.244.4356 to request funds and a new Virtual Card.




Can I transfer the funds from the card to another account (Venmo, bank account, etc.)?


At this time, the Virtual Mastercard can be used online where debit Mastercard is accepted. The funds cannot be transferred to a financial institution and there is no ATM access.




Can I use my card to access cash?


There is ATM access with the Physical Card. It is subject to ATM fees ($2.50 fee per withdrawal, limit of $500 per ATM transaction, limit 2 transactions per day). There is no ATM access with the Virtual Card. It does not constitute a savings or checking account.




What if I have disputed, pending, or refunded transactions on my virtual card - can I still request a change to a physical card?


  • Disputes – If you have an open dispute where you are claiming not to have made a transaction on your virtual card, you will not be able to cancel and close the card account until the dispute has been resolved with the network and involved merchant(s) as disputed funds will be returned to that account.
  • Pending transactions – If your virtual card card has pending transactions, there will be a delay until those charges settle or drop so we know exactly what your virtual balance will be that needs to be transferred to a physical card
  • Returns – If you make a return for a purchase made with your virtual card, funds will automatically refund to the virtual card, even if it is closed. If this happens, contact Blackhawk customer service at 1-833-244-4356 to resolve the problem.




I have not received my Virtual Card but I keep getting emails about it.


Virtual Cards should be received by email around 24 hours after verification. Check the emails you received carefully for Virtual Card information or call Blackhawk’s customer service at 833-244-4356 and they can support you in finding the virtual code.




Someone stole my card. How can I cancel it?


Please call Blackhawk’s customer service ASAP at 833-244-4356 to cancel your card.




I’m younger than 20 years old and have questions about my pandemic relief funds.


Please contact your CDSS case worker.




My question isn’t on this list.


Please call Blackhawk’s customer service directly at 833-244-4356 and they can support you in troubleshooting.