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Federal effort launched to help kids on SSI live independently

The Social Security Administration and the federal Education, Labor and Health and Human Services departments recently announced grants for an exciting new project. In a joint effort, the agencies awarded more than $211 million to eleven states in a project meant to help children on Supplemental Security Income grow up to lead independent lives.

These grants are for demonstration projects so, although Georgia wasn’t among the states participating, the benefits could accrue to Georgia kids with disabilities by revealing what strategies are most effective in pursuing that goal.

Grants through this program, called “Promoting Readiness of Minors in Supplemental Security Income” or PROMISE, have funded six projects. Five are centered in Maryland, Arkansas, California, New York and Wisconsin, and the sixth will be a collaborative effort between Arizona, Colorado, Utah, Montana and North and South Dakota. Broadly, these projects will develop coordinated supports and services they believe will help kids who receive SSI benefits reach their own educational and career goals.

Ideally, these services and supports will ultimately allow them to live independently when they reach adulthood, so they no longer have to rely on the subsistence provided by SSI. Specifically, the projects are focused on giving both child-SSI beneficiaries and their parents whatever support would be most effective at accomplishing three goals: finishing high school, completing job training or post-secondary education, and finding employment in the regular workforce.

“All children deserve a chance to achieve their educational and career goals,” the secretary of education said in the press release announcing the grants. “The PROMISE initiative provides services and support to help our most at-risk students and their families so that they can focus on their education and a brighter future.”

The grants were announced on Sept. 30 -- just before the federal government shutdown began on Oct. 1. It’s not clear whether the shutdown delayed the funding.

The Social Security Administration, however, is less affected by the shutdown than other parts of the government because of the way it’s funded. So, if you’re already receiving SSDI or SSI benefits, you don’t need to worry. Payment of benefits is expected to continue on schedule.

Sources: 

  • Disability Scoop, “States Get Millions To Wean Kids Off SSI,” Shaun Heasley, Oct. 8, 2013
  • U.S. Department of Education press release, "Department Awards $211 Million for the Promoting the Readiness Of Minors in Supplemental Security Income (PROMISE) Initiative," Sept. 30, 2013

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