Give cash or prepaid cards for stipends
Give cash or prepaid cards for stipends instead of store-specific gift cards like Target cards.
Who Can Do This?:
Anyone responsible for distributing stipends to youth
The Problem It Solves
Older youth often rely on their stipends to cover food and basic necessities. They cannot buy as much food for $20 at Target as they can at a grocery store.
In a multi-state discovery sprint with older foster youth, Think of Us found that when youth receive Target gift cards, they often engage in a complicated workaround: they purchase miscellaneous Target items, then return them in batches to receive cash refunds in increments of $10. They then used that cash to buy food at other stores.
How To Do This
In order of preference:
- Give youth cash
- Deposit stipends in a youth’s bank account immediately
- Send payment with a cash app of the youth’s choosing (e.g. Cashapp, Venmo)
- Give youth a prepaid cash card such as a Visa gift card (ensure it has no transaction fees)
- Discuss with youth the type of gift card they would prefer, and provide that
Youth will be able to afford more food and essentials with the same stipend amount.
Who’s Doing This?
This play was contributed by Think of Us.