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Nevada using $5M in COVID-19 aid for grants to disabled kids

October 25, 2021 GMT

LAS VEGAS (AP) — Nevada is allocating $5 million in federal coronavirus pandemic aid for a program the governor and state treasurer on Monday said will provide grants to children with disabilities and their families.

The Transforming Opportunities for Toddlers and Students program, or TOTS, aims to help youngsters recover from the COVID-19 pandemic and provide “opportunities to save for a brighter future,” Gov. Steve Sisolak and Treasurer Zach Conine said ahead of a media event at the Nevada Blind Children’s Foundation in Las Vegas.

“Due to school closures and the transition to distance learning, many students in special education programs lost access to vital programs and services to which they were entitled,” the governor said, according to a KLAS-TV report.

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“For too long, Nevadans with disabilities have been forced into poverty through no fault of their own,” Conine said.

Up to 1,000 children with disabilities can receive $5,000 grants to use for education, transportation, housing, health care, assistive technology and other disability-related expenses, the Democratic officials said. Grants do not have to be repaid.

The governor’s office called it the first statewide grant program launched in the nation using federal coronavirus aid funding, and the largest investment into ABLE accounts in the United States.

Funds can be used for educational needs including the costs of transportation, tutoring, micro-schooling and other services available through diverse providers.

Eligibility is limited to Nevada residents under age 18 who have been “negatively impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic or its economic effects” and have an ABLE Nevada account.

Officials said that to ensure that no child loses eligibility for benefit programs such as Medicaid and Social Security, grant funds will be deposited directly into an ABLE account in the child’s name.