Monday, February 18, 2008

Slashing foster care funding does not support safety and stability

Don't cut foster care
San Bernardino Sun, Feb. 9, 2008.

Last October, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger stated: "Every child deserves to grow up in a safe, stable and permanent home, surrounded by the nurturing influence of family and friends. It is California's goal to ensure that this happens for all our young people and especially those in foster care."

Three months later, the governor's 2008-2009 proposed budget slashes foster-care funding:

- 10 percent from children served in foster family homes;

- 10 percent from children cared for in group homes;

- 10 percent from support for kin caregivers;

- 10 percent from support for adoptive families of special needs children;

- 5 percent from children served in foster family agencies.

The resources provided to support foster children have been chronically underfunded since 1991. Last year foster, kin and adoptive caregivers received a 5 percent increase - the first increase since 2001 and only the fifth since 1991! The proposed cuts turn a long overdue 5 percent gain into a 5 percent loss.

With the proposed cuts, the funding built into group home rates for entry-level youth counselors now falls below minimum wage. Qualified individuals will be discouraged from becoming and continuing as caregivers. The resulting high turnover rate among foster parents and the staff of group homes and foster family agencies will deny foster children the caregiver stability they so desperately need and deserve.

I urge the public to take a stand for children and ask your legislators to keep the promise of quality care for foster children by opposing the governor's proposed budget cuts for foster youth funding.

Chief executive officer
Trinity Youth Services, Colton


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