Monday, May 28, 2007

Six years budget freeze creates less group homes, foster families

Opinion: Foster care suffers from budget freeze
Los Angeles Times, May 27, 2007.

Re "Is gov.'s budget picking on the helpless or using them as bargaining chips?" column, May 17.

The governor's proposed budget would freeze payments for the care of the state's most vulnerable and abused children for the sixth year in a row, resulting in a 20% cumulative cut in support since 2001. No one can question that the lives of foster children are improved through the love and nurturing that they receive from stable caregivers.

When the state fails to provide adequate financial support, good families and youth counselors turn away from foster care-giving and high-quality group homes close their doors.

At Hathaway-Sycamores Child and Family Services, we struggle to recruit new foster parents to replace those who leave fostering. A six-year budget freeze has contributed to our agency's closing 65 group-home beds over the last three years and a probable elimination of another 98 by June.

Foster children deprived of caring, stable relationships tragically drop out, run away and end up in jail; it's happening now, and it's within California's power to change it. The governor should recognize the state's obligation to provide those who care for our foster children with the first cost-of-living adjustment in six years.

President, Chief Executive
Hathaway-Sycamores Child and Family Services