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Funds still available for former, current Utah foster care youth

Posted at 2:12 PM, Sep 14, 2021

SALT LAKE CITY — Time is running out for former and current foster care youth in Utah to take advantage of an opportunity that could change their lives.

Transitions can be tough for those who age out of foster care in the state.

"They tend to be homeless more often than not, they tend to be incarcerated more often than not, they tend to live in poverty more often than not," says Aubrey Myers with the Utah Division of Child and Family Services.

Myers is referring to those who lack connections – or people that could provide them with support that a family usually would.

Those challenges are only being compounded by the ongoing pandemic, and that's where the COVID relief money comes in handy.

Utah received more than $2 million in March to help former and current foster care youth afford to live. Currently, the state says they still have $1.8 million remaining.

"This money, really, is earmarked to get youth of the streets, to get food in the cupboards if they need it," said Myers. "It's to provide them with things they need if they need to go back to school, if that's something they want to do. It really extensive in terms of what we can do with it."

The Utah Department of Human Services has also temporarily changed eligibility requirements for those going through the foster care system in order to more people get access to help.

The modifications include:

  • Raising the qualifying age limit for former foster care youth from 23 to 27
  • Allowing voluntary re-entry into foster care — up to 22-years-old

Officials say federal eligibility for the COVID relief money end on October 1, but the funds will continue to be available until Sept. 30, 2022.