We Did the Impossible: the Check for Us Initiative
January 14, 2022
In December 2020, Congress released more than $400 million in emergency funds for current and former foster youth in response to the devastating effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. It was a significant milestone, having partnered with many advocates to leverage our COVID-19 MicroCash Grant data, elevating the critical needs of foster youth during the pandemic. As many as 500,000 current and former foster youth were eligible and states were tasked with eligibility verification and distribution to young people.
The challenge was that states had no contact with youth who were no longer officially a part of the system. No national, and in most cases, state-wide database of foster youth exists. The timeframe was extremely short and child welfare systems were already overwhelmed by the effects of the pandemic. States did not have the infrastructure or staffing to market, process applications, and rapidly disperse funding for the program.
Think of Us determined to meet this challenge, stepping up to ensure that tens of thousands of foster youth have access to much-needed support.
We partnered with Revolve Impact to design and implement Check for Us, a national outreach campaign to find and connect as many former foster youth as possible with their state to apply for funding. The result was the first-ever nationwide campaign focused on former foster youth, demonstrating a new approach to streamlining government support.
At Think of Us, we value growing in understanding and sharing what we learn for the good of the child welfare ecosystem. We released the Check for Us report with key takeaways for future efforts that support current and former foster youth.
Five recommendations for future initiatives emerged:
Be worthy of young people’s trust.
Build marketing expertise around this population’s unique behaviors.
Accommodate for variation among states.
Collaborate with youth-serving organizations.
Build data infrastructure to support long-term impact.
Read the Check for Us Report to hear the story of the initiative and learn actionable steps to make these recommendations a reality.