Anyone who has children, knows children, or was a child knows just how much it costs to raise a child.  The average, they say is around $700 per child.  So, when a foster child is placed in a foster home where the foster care reimbursement rate is much lower — say $425, we know that the math just doesn’t figure.  Foster parents, much like many teachers in California must take money out-of-pocket to pay for the necessities.

Good public policy dictates that foster homes are preferred over other types of care (e.g. group homes, institutions, and orphanages) and are the less restrictive.  We also know the the number of foster homes in Calif. is shrinking.  Further, we also know that many battles in the courtroom revolve around the “cost” of providing necessities and necessary services.

So what do we do?

The bad news, is that up until now, there was very little we could do.  The Legislature set the foster care rate, and the fact that foster families and children were struggling to afford life was, well, just too bad.

The good news, is that last Tuesday (10/21/08), a federal judge declared that the state of California must recalculate its foster care rates — and do so according to federal law.  The Court Order found that California has violated federal law by failing to set its rate to cover the actual “cost of (and the cost of providing) food, clothing, shelter, daily supervision, school supplies, a child’s personal incidentals, liability insurance with respect to a child, and reasonable travel to the child’s home for visitation.”

In October 2007, Children’s Right’s Inc., the National Foster Parent Association, and the University of Maryland School of Social Work teamed up to publish, “Hitting the M.A.R.C.: Foster Care Reimbursement Rates.”  The report is especially compelling as it argues that California foster children should be eligible for foster care rates as much as 61% higher than current rates allow.

So, be on the lookout for increases in foster care rates, which should in turn help foster youth have a warm coat for winter, a backpack for school, and a decent pair of shoes.  Also, you might try this as an added argument as to why a child should have county pay or county funds cover a necessity.

Children’s Rights put out a press release that has more information if you’re interested.

Meanwhile — call your state representative and state senator and tell them that you have been following this story and want fair foster care maintenance payments for our foster youth.

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Take a gander at the new CaliforniaCASA Channel on YouTube!!!  There is a link to your left, our you can go here: http://www.youtube.com/CaliforniaCASA

This Public Service Announcement (PSA) is from awhile ago, but I find it as compelling as any.  If you want this to use for your local CASA program, you can go to National CASA’s site (Private Area – Marketing & Photos – Ad Campaign – TV/Radio) and pull it off.

I love this PSA — take a look.

In an effort to reach more people who are interested in child advocacy, child welfare, foster care, and how to improve the system we at CalCASA http://www.californiacasa.org hope to bring discussion and insight to the web.

You may have noticed that there are many sources of information for child welfare, but these not are complete. Here, we hope to shed light on a system shrouded in confidentiality and misunderstanding. CASAs (Court Appointed Special Advocates) span the nation and California is no exception. Our network of volunteers reaches throughout the state and each goes into court to help a child’s voice be heard.

If you are a volunteer, you are in the right place. And if you are just looking for information, well, then, suppose you’re in the right place, too.

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