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Idaho families can get thousands to help with education costs

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BOISE — Idaho families can receive up to $3,500 to purchase or receive reimbursement for educational materials, technology or services through a website launching Wednesday.

In September, Gov. Brad Little announced the Strong Families, Strong Students initiative utilizing $50 million in federal COVID-19 relief funds. Since the announcement, the State Board of Education has approved a contract with a third-party vendor, allowing the Wednesday launch of strongfamlies.idaho.gov.

“When parents have to step in to provide instruction and equipment due to school-related closures, we see them pushed out of the workforce – something that strains our economic rebound, Little said in a news release Monday announcing the website.

The website will allow eligible parents to apply for $1,500 per eligible student with a maximum award of $3,500 per family. The money can be used to purchase or receive reimbursement for eligible educational materials, devices and services.

Eligible items include computers, software, other devices including adaptive learning technology, internet connectivity, instructional materials, and fees for courses, tutoring services, educational services and therapies, and licensed daycare during work hours.

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Board of Education spokesman Mike Keckler tells EastIdahoNews.com that the program targets families with a gross adjusted income equal to or less than $50,000. Those interested in accessing these funds will provide information to prove their income, such as a 1040 form.

The funds are distributed in waves, meaning if there is still money available after everyone in the lower-income bracket additional awards will be given to applicants. With the $50 million available, the State Board estimates 13,000 awards will be given across the state.

All funds must be distributed by Dec. 30 and can cover expenses families occurred between March and December of this year.

The funds are only to cover K-12 students, but it is not limited to students in public schools. Those meeting the eligibility requirements who homeschool, attend charter schools or other formal education in Idaho can apply for the Strong Families, Strong Students program.

“I can’t think of a better use of relief funds right now than helping families who are trying to support their students and meet their learning needs during such a stressful time,” Debbie Critchfield, the State Board of Education president, said in the news release. “We have heard what the priorities are, and the Strong Families, Strong Students program can make a difference by providing educational resources that will have an immediate impact and benefit for families throughout our state.”

For more details about applying for the program, people can contact the State Board of Education.

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