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SC DSS rolling out $4.1M in federal aid for foster care young people and alumni

Updated: Apr. 23, 2021 at 8:25 PM EDT
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COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - Federal pandemic aid is coming to South Carolina, and the Department of Social Services wants to make sure the aid gets to the young people it’s for.

The DSS is responsible for $4.1 million in aid for those in the state’s foster care system, or recent alumni. The age range is 14 to 26 years old.

The money can be used for food, higher education, transportation, and rental assistance among other needs.

To sign up, the department is asking the 3,847 potentially eligible youth to contact the department to add their name to the Older Youth Pandemic Relief List.

That can be done through the department’s hotline for the program 1-803-995-0835 or the department can be emailed at IndependentLiving@DSS.SC.GOV.

19-year-old Malajah is one of the eligible individuals, having spent time in the state’s foster care system. She said she wants to be a nurse practitioner, and the money could be used to help her and others chase their dreams.

“I really want people to understand that being a foster child, even after transitioning, it’s hard, it’s not easy at all and we’re young. We’re too young to be struggling about how we’re going to feed ourselves. This money is a gamechanger, and it only starts from here,” she said.

She said she’s gravitating toward working with children, because of her own experiences.

“These children, they don’t have a voice at all. They get lost in the system, their voices aren’t heard, and they get mistreated a lot. Because they’re kids, they’re scared to speak up, and I want to be that voice for them,” she said.

“When you come into my office and I see you’re scared to speak in front of your foster parent or your real parent, listen I’m pulling you to the side, and let me know what’s wrong. We’re going to fix this issue and I’m going to call whoever I need to get in contact with because the last thing I want to see is a child in need and their cries not being heard. That was me. I was that child.”

18-year-old Robin is also eligible and echoed Malajah’s desire to help children. She said she wants to be a pediatric neurologist and is driven to chase her goals.

“I can’t stop driving, I can’t stop moving. I have to get where I’m going because if I don’t I’m going to stumble and I don’t want to stumble. I did a lot of stumbling at a young age and it was not fun and I learned life, and I got life and I experienced life at a young age, and I’m thankful because I wouldn’t be who I am today,” she said.

Statewide, the DSS reports there are 4,028 children in foster care.

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