Sunday, December 21, 2008

California level of foster parent compensation violates federal law

Judge: Calif. Foster Care Reimbursement Violates Federal Law
KCBS, Dec. 9, 2008.

A federal judge in San Francisco ruled Tuesday that the way California compensates foster parents for child rearing expenses violates the Child Welfare Act.

The money foster parents receive from the state averages about $505 a month per child, a figure the plaintiff’s attorney’s said does not take into account the actual expenses the guardian incurs providing for the child.

“It’s required to make payments to cover the cost of providing certain basic necessities,” said attorney Rick Ballinger, an associate with the law firm Morrison & Foerster. Instead, he said, “the state’s setting rates based on how much money it wants to pay.”

Ballinger argued that foster parents are being overwhelmed the growing costs of food, clothing, and housing. “Families are in the worst position in times like this. A foster parent who’s real income is shrinking right now has nowhere to go,” he said.

The State Department of Social Services oversees 70,000 children in the foster care system, and Ballinger said fewer people were volunteering to serve as foster parents.

It’s unclear when the agency might increase the amounts it pays as a result of the decision. A spokesman for the agency refused to comment.

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