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SPRINGFIELD—Youth under the care of the Department of Children and Family Services might soon have an easier time applying for financial aid if a measure sponsored by State Senator Robert Peters (D-Chicago) requiring the DCFS to assist youth-in-care with the completion of the Free Application for Federal Student Aid becomes law.
“If you’re a youth-in-care who is a senior in high school, you have to deal with the uncertainty of your imminent aging out of the system on top of the added stress of making decisions about college – including how it will be paid for,” Peters said. “This legislation is simply providing assistance in navigating the often confusing financial aid application process to kids in our state who could, quite frankly, use a break from things they have to worry about.”
Senate Bill 63 requires DCFS to ensure that by no later than Nov. 1 of their final year in high school, every youth-in-care has completed a FAFSA. In addition, the legislation requires DCFS to assist in the acquisition of documents that are necessary for FAFSA completion, including a Social Security card, driver’s license number, and tax and other financial information.
“DCFS is meant to provide help to youth under their care until they age out, and that includes assisting with applying for financial aid,” Peters said. “Many kids in foster care may not have important documents like Social Security cards and birth certificates.”
The legislation is an initiative of the National Association of Social Workers, Illinois Chapter. The Illinois Senate approved it without opposition, and it will now be sent to the House of Representatives.