QUEEN'S PARK -- Ontario parents can now apply for a one-time COVID-19 payment to help offset the costs of keeping children entertained and engaged during the extended time away from school.

The government launched the Support for Families portal on Monday, offering cheques and direct deposits of $200 per child 12 year of age and under and $250 for dependants with special needs from birth to age 21.

The $340 million initiative was part of a $17 billion rescue package for the Ontario economy that the Progressive Conservative government unveiled in late-March, instead of a traditional Spring budget.

"During this extraordinary time, we're doing everything we can to support parents to keep everyone safe and ensure our children continue to learn and stay mentally active," Ontario Premier Doug Ford said in a news release issued Monday.

"This one-time funding will allow parents to access additional tools for our kids to use while at home and studying remotely. I want to remind everyone to stay at home and only go out if absolutely necessary. It's the only way we are going to defeat this terrible virus."

In an effort to speed up the processing of payments, the government turned to its existing Support For Parents website, which it used to help families affected by education strikes and school closures in late 2019 and early 2020.

The portal, however, continues to be plagued with processing issues resulting in some parents receiving too much or too little money, and in some instances no payment at all.

The government later blamed a computer glitch and said the problem had been resolved.

Parents who had signed up for the initial support payments related to school strikes are automatically eligible for the COVID-19 parental support, the government said, and should receive a confirmation email along with payment in the next two weeks.