School buses in Hartford. Yehyun Kim / CT Mirror

The state Department of Social Services will send $7 million in special relief grants to help about 15,000 low-income families with children get ready for the start of a new school year, Gov. Ned Lamont’s office announced Friday.

The state will pay for the grants, which will support about 27,000 children — or $257.87 per child — with federal Pandemic Emergency Assistance Fund aid, one of the programs created by Congress in 2021 through the American Rescue Plan Act.

The grants will be sent to families who participate in the Temporary Family Assistance program or in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, commonly known as SNAP.

In most cases, eligible families will receive their payments on Sunday through a credit to their electronic benefit transfer [EBT] cards. Others will have funds transferred directly to their bank accounts.

Lamont said the administration is trying to time the release of these funds to help low-income families take advantage of the sales-tax-free week the state is offering. Between Aug. 21 and Aug. 27, the state’s 6.35% sales tax is waived on clothing and footwear items that cost less than $100.

“Connecticut is the most family-friendly state in the country, and this one-time special benefit puts money back into the pockets of families who have been struggling to make ends meet,” Lamont said.

The administration also is planning to send relief payments out in October to working families that claim the state’s Earned Income Tax credit on their Connecticut income tax return.

Lamont and the General Assembly enacted legislation in May directing more than $40 million in federal COVID-19 relief funds to be used to effectively boost the EITC credit to the roughly 180,000 low-income households that claim the state EITC.

To qualify for the EITC last year, a household had to earn $57,414 or less.

Keith has spent most of his 31 years as a reporter specializing in state government finances, analyzing such topics as income tax equity, waste in government and the complex funding systems behind Connecticut’s transportation and social services networks. He has been the state finances reporter at CT Mirror since it launched in 2010. Prior to joining CT Mirror Keith was State Capitol bureau chief for The Journal Inquirer of Manchester, a reporter for the Day of New London, and a former contributing writer to The New York Times. Keith is a graduate of and a former journalism instructor at the University of Connecticut.