Who is eligible? Florida families begin receiving $450 checks from state

Thousands of Florida families will be receiving at least one $450 check from Gov. Ron DeSantis – but which households qualify?

Last week, while visiting Tampa, the DeSantis family formally announced that 59,000 families across the state will receive a one-time payment of $450 per child. 

"This one-time payment assists families who are being affected by rising inflation and preparing to send their children back-to-school," according to a statement sent by the Florida Department of Children and Families on Thursday morning. 

Officials said the checks will be mailed and "should arrive within the next seven days."

CARES Act funds checks for families

The money comes from funds given to every state through the American Rescue Plan, commonly referred to as the CARES Act, to bolster communities during the pandemic. 

The state was given until September to decide how the remainder of the money would be spent, with conditions for helping families and those who need it most. 

READ: 'Cheapest place in town': Lakeland gas station slashes pump prices, makes up difference inside market

The state put $35.5 million from the CARES Act into Florida's budget this year to be used for this purpose. 

Who's eligible to get a check?

Eligible families must fall into one of these categories: 

  • Foster Parents
  • Relative Caregivers
  • Non-relative Caregivers
  • Families receiving TANF cash assistance
  • Guardianship Assistance Program participants

A DCF hotline has been set up for anyone who has questions: 850-300-4323.

DCF pointed out the checks will arrive in time for this year's back-to-school sales tax holiday, which begins Monday, July 25, and ends Sunday, August 7. Items that will be exempt from the state sales tax include school supplies, clothing, footwear, and computers.

Left: Gov. Ron DeSantis speaks at 2022 CPAC conference in Orlando (Getty Images) | Right: Letter sent to foster families, single mothers, and other eligible Floridians, along with $450 checks (Courtesy state staff)

Additional information on this sales tax holiday can be found on the Florida Revenue website.

Local families in need of relief

In Hillsborough County, workers at the leading non-profit that manages the welfare system said this money is desperately needed.

"As you can imagine, when families are responsible for multiple kids, the burden of providing everything for them just really adds up so this $450 stipend will go a long, long way to help get the kids ready for school, get them the supplies they need, the clothing," said Nadereh Salim, the CEO of Children's Network of Hillsborough County.

She points out that many students need everything from uniforms to sports gear and the money provided through the state, from the federal CARES Act, will let them choose what's most important.

"Everything has gone up in cost. What it used to cost families a couple of years ago has substantially gone up. This will help them offset the cost of supplies, clothing, shoes, sports gear, school uniforms, just about anything that families need to buy for the kids to get them ready for school," Salim said.

Meanwhile, the governor's office posted on social media to reassure folks that the letters were real.

This week, the governor's spokesperson shared a photo of the letter that comes with the check, saying, "These letters are real."

The letter in the image reads:

"As a father of three young children, I know that getting ready for a new school year can be both exciting and stressful. To offset the costs of rising inflation, especially with a new school year approaching, the State of Florida is giving you $450 for each child in your care. This one-time payment can be used for anything from buying diapers to fueling at the pump. I also want to make sure you are aware of our state's 'Back-to-School' sales-tax holiday, which will take place from July 25 to August 7, to help you get the supplies you need to prepare for the upcoming school year. Supplies that will be tax-free during this time include clothing, bags, computers, shoes and other school supplies.

Please accept this payment as a form of gratitude and acknowledgment for all that you do to help nurture Florida's future. God bless you, and God bless the great state of Florida."