SACRAMENTO, Calif., Sept. 25 "This week both state andnational policymakers recognized their responsibility to foster children andyouth. First, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger signed a budget which left intactfunding for child welfare, foster care, and mental health for California'smost vulnerable children and families. However, care for foster youth has beenseverely underfunded for the last 17 years. Sparing foster care from thebudget axe this year was critically important, but adequate funding to ensurebetter outcomes for California's 74,000 foster children remains a hope, not areality.
"California needs a secure funding source for foster children and fostercaregivers. As cost of living expenses increase, both counties and fosterfamily agencies are finding it more and more difficult to recruit and retaincompetent caregivers, and residential programs are closing their doors. TheCalifornia Alliance looks forward to working with the Administration ofGovernor Schwarzenegger and with both Assembly Speaker Karen Bass and SenatePresident pro Tempore Darrell Steinberg to address remaining gaps inCalifornia's child welfare system.
"The California Alliance also urges Governor Schwarzenegger to sign SB1380 (Steinberg), an important piece of legislation that would do two things:update the Intensive Treatment Foster Care Program and extend 'rate relief'for group homes for an additional year. Implementing SB 1380 will ensure thatfewer children with exceptional needs will require costly group home care andthat more of these children will be cared for and receive services in a familysetting. As a result, they will be less likely to bounce from placement toplacement and will be more likely to exit foster care to a permanent familyand home. For children needing group home care, this bill will ensure thoseprograms continue to have the flexibility they need to provide care andservices to foster children in a seriously underfunded system withoutadditional cost to the state.
"Additionally this week, Congress passed The Fostering Connections toSuccess and Increasing Adoptions Act. The Act, if signed by President Bush,has the potential to significantly improve outcomes for emancipating fosteryouth, by providing funding to allow foster youth to remain in care until theage of 21 if they are working, in school, or disabled. It will also encouragestates to find permanent, stable and loving families for foster youth byproviding monthly payments to adoptive families and incentives for states toincrease adoptions of disabled children."
The California Alliance of Child and Family Services (the CaliforniaAlliance) is a statewide association of more than 120 accredited privatenonprofit agencies that provide quality services and support to children andfamilies. Member agencies offer a broad range of care and service optionsincluding adoption, family-based services, treatment foster care,community-based mental health services, residential treatment, wraparound,nonpublic and charter school programs, and housing, services and support fortransition age youth. The Alliance and its individual members are dedicated toadvancing public policy that improves outcomes for vulnerable children andfamilies. They recognize that achieving progressively better outcomes requiresa wide array of effective, high quality and appropriately funded services.For more information, please go to http://www.cacfs.org.
SOURCE California Alliance of Child and Family Services