JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Hundreds of Floridians reached out to News4JAX this week with questions surrounding First Lady Casey DeSantis’ announcement of a one-time payment of $450 per child that some families would receive.
The one-time payment would assist families who are being affected by rising inflation and prepare to send their children back to school, the Florida Department of Children and Families (DCF) said.
Melinda Klamer, customer support and resolution manager with DCF, said there are a few options for those who want to get questions answered.
“If an individual has an issue with the depositing/cashing of the check, they can call our payment vendor at 833-681-3438 to attempt to resolve,” Klamer said. “But for all other questions regarding eligibility in the program they can call the Customer Call Center at 850-300-4323 so their issue can be discussed and if needed sent through a review process.”
News4JAX spoke with a family in Northeast Florida who received the check. They said while they are happy to get the check — they also have questions. The woman, who is an adoptive and foster parent, said she got the check on Tuesday.
“It’s a temporary fix for sure,” the woman said. “We’re still having to put a whole bunch of money into our gases, we’re still having to pay overpriced costs for food. It is great, but it’s, it was gone within minutes.”
The bottom line is not everyone is eligible for the checks. Unless you are in these categories below — and chosen by DCF — you won’t be getting one.
Eligible recipients include:
- Foster parents
- Relative caregivers
- Non-relative caregivers
- Families receiving Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) cash assistance (Note: Eligibility is based on federal TANF requirements and the state’s TANF Plan.)
- Guardianship Assistance Program participants
Vanessa Brito, a community activist with a background in public policy, said the state could have done this differently.
“I wish the state would have put in a little bit more money because they are allowed, the federal government does allow the state to put in their own money to add to that fund, to kind of include more people, maybe anybody who received PEBT,” Brito said.
She said the government had to move fast with this money. According to DCF, the checks came from a budget that was funded by federal dollars during the pandemic. The state got an allocation of $35.5 million to operate the program and the funds had to be spent by Sept. 30.
Brito said the department is likely considering family income for who gets the check.
“There are 79,000 adults and children who qualify for TANF in Florida,” Brito said. “We’re issuing 59,000 checks. Not all of those recipients have children who qualify, etc, etc. So, I mean, looking at the number, it really is based on families with children who receive TANF benefits and then other families, you know, that have had some sort of pandemic-related financial crisis but also qualify for SNAP and Medicaid.”
News4JAX called the DCF program on Thursday. The person we spoke with says they have a list of checks filled out — so they can address problems people may have.
Just a few reminders — if you get SNAP benefits, you must be enrolled in one of the other programs to receive the payment. Also, if you recently moved or think you should’ve received the payment — call the number for TANF.
Here are some answers to frequently asked questions:
Do you have to apply to receive a check?
No. You don’t have to apply for this one-time payment and the checks are mailed directly to the recipients.
News4JAX was told those eligible would receive a check within the next seven days.
Who may I contact if I am eligible and feel like I should have received a check?
Issues depositing/cashing of the check: Payment vendor: 833-681-3438
Eligibility questions: Customer Call Center: 850-300-4323
How is the money from the governor’s budget broken up to help these families?
It will support nearly 59,000 Florida families and that includes foster families. First Lady Casey DeSantis held a roundtable discussion in Tampa on Friday and said that foster families, adoptive families, and single mothers are eligible for the checks.
“... You know, the governor signed his budget, and obviously we’re putting a lot into that,” she said. “Making sure that we’re doing everything we can on behalf of Florida families. ... So $35 million within that budget will then go to support our foster and adoptive families -- our single moms across the state -- so they will get a one-time payment of $450. "
The American Rescue Plan Act created a $1 billion fund to assist needy families affected by the pandemic within the TANF program, according to the release. The one-time payments ensured that $35.5 million would be received by Florida families. Had these awards not been made, the funding would have otherwise reverted back to the federal government.
(Note: Eligibility is based on federal TANF requirements and the state’s TANF Plan.)
Is this the only effort the governor’s office has made to help foster families?
No. The Freedom First Budget gives $133.9 million for services for those in the child welfare system. It also has an increase of $300 per month to the child care subsidy for foster parents which covers the cost of early education and childcare.
If you are a parent expecting to receive the $450 check from DCF, you can sign up for USPS Informed Delivery, Brito mentioned. It is a free service that notifies you of your daily mail with images every morning. Click here to sign up.
Do you have a question you want to be answered? Let us know below.