The Tennessee Department of Human Services (TDHS) announced that specific low-income families would receive $950 in aid from COVID relief funding. It said that families who are enrolled in the state’s Family First Program and qualified for the money in October will receive a deposit on their Electronic Benefit Transfer debit cards this December.

The TDHS said that this money was specifically for caregivers who did not receive other aid such as child care assistance, job training, or transportation support. It explained that these were for cases considered to be child-only. This means a home “where no adult receives Families First benefits themselves and the child living in the household is being raised by relatives instead of the child’s parents.”

The TDHS Commissioner Clarence H. Carter said the money was intended for grandparents, aunts, and uncles who are trying to provide a child with a stable home and a nurturing lifestyle to vulnerable children. “These families don’t receive all the same benefits, goods, and services as our other Families First participants despite playing an impactful role in the development of children.”

He added that he hoped the $950 would help support these families through any challenges they may be facing.

The money for this program came from the Pandemic Emergency Assistance Fund. Part of Tennessee’s COVID relief, the state qualified for over $12 million. The TDHS explains the program as “a federally funded program that emphasizes work, family strengthening, and personal responsibility to empower families for long-term success.”

The Family First Program assists families by giving families in need temporary cash assistance, transportation, child care assistance, educational support, job training, and other support services.

The Tennessee Star reported earlier this year, through the TDHS, residents eligible for the Child Care Certificate Program would receive a 10 to 15 percent increase in benefits. This program’s funding was increased due to COVID relief for the state. The Star showed that funding for the certificate program had almost doubled from the 2019-20 fiscal year.

The Child Care Certificate Program was designed to help many different types of families, including those in the Families First Program and those transitioning out of the program. It “not only allows parents and guardians a sense of security while they work or pursue educational goals, but it also promotes children’s learning and development in child care environments.”

The TDHS reported that in October of this year, there were 22,923 children were receiving aid through the Families First Program and that of those, 8,894 were child-only cases.

The TDHS also reported that the average monthly cash benefit for families in the Families First Program was $385.63.

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Morgan Nicole Veysey is a reporter for The Tennessee Star and The Star News Network. Follow her on Twitter. Email tips to [email protected].
Image “Commissioner Clarence Carter” by Tennessee Department of Humans Services.