(Robert Davis) – Gov. Steve Sisolak and Treasurer Zach Conine unveiled a new grant program on Monday that will support children with disabilities as part of Nevada’s economic recovery from COVID-19.
Known as The Transforming Opportunities for Toddlers and Students (TOTS) Grant Program, the program is funded with $5 million from federal American Rescue Plan funds and will be distributed using the state’s Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) accounts.
The TOTS program is the first of its kind in the country and represents the largest investment in ABLE accounts to date, according to a press release about the announcement.
“Throughout the pandemic, Nevada’s children with disabilities were among the hardest hit due to the effects of distance learning and social isolation,” Sisolak said in a statement. “I am incredibly proud to launch this first-in-the-nation program to provide our children with disabilities an opportunity to recover and rebuild from this pandemic stronger than ever before.”
To qualify for the program, applicants must be residents of Nevada and under 18 years old. They must also have a qualifying disability to open an ABLE account and must have experienced a negative impact from COVID-19.
Awardees can receive grants of up to $5,000. These funds can be used to cover daily expenses such as education, transportation, and housing.
To avoid conflicts with Medicaid and other social benefits, the grants will be directly deposited into each child’s ABLE account. The grants are not required to be paid back.
“For too long, Nevadans with disabilities have been forced into poverty through no fault of their own,” Conine said in a statement. “Through this historic investment in ABLE accounts, we can create pathways out of poverty for 1,000 Nevada families.”
Robert Davis | The Center Square contributor