Funding disparities hurt relatives of foster children.
Alliance for Children’s Rights
September 1, 2013
Tiffany Soto was a 28 year-old USC graduate just starting a career when she stepped up to care for her nephew who entered foster care due to severe abuse and neglect. Tiffany was shocked when she was told that, despite changing the course of her life to become a dedicated parent, she was ineligible for foster care funding. Instead she was told to apply for CalWORKs, which far from covered the costs of caring for her nephew. Although California law specifies that the preferred placement for a foster child is with relatives, there are thousands of relatives just like Tiffany who struggle because the state treats relative foster parents unjustly.
Fifty six percent of California’s foster children do not qualify for federal foster care funding, but the state makes up the difference for non-relative foster parents, paying them the state-only foster care benefits in the equivalent amount that children who met federal criteria receive. However, the state does not do the same for relatives. Instead, relatives like Tiffany can only receive a maximum of $351 a month through CalWORKs for one child. And, the CalWORKs grant decreases for each additional child, making it particularly difficult for relatives to support sibling groups. For relatives caring for children with disabilities, this disparity is even more devastating, because a foster child that receives CalWORKs does not qualify for specialized care payments or other special rates aimed at children with disabilities. This “savings” on the backs of relatives makes little fiscal sense because if these children end up in group homes, the state pays upwards of $7,000 a month for their care.
As a legal services organization that works to protect and support children who have endured abuse and neglect, the Alliance is committed to ensuring that all foster parents have what they need to wholly care for our state’s children. Support should solely be based on the needs of the child. Read Alliance CEO Janis Spire’s Los Angeles Times op-ed “Families who foster deserve parity” published on September 3, 2013.
Learn more about the Alliance and their campaign to create equity for relative foster parents at kids-alliance.org.