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Foster Youth Receive No Support During COVID-19 and Now Cuts In May Budget Revision

May 15, 2020

On April 13, Governor Newsom announced $42 Million to protect foster youth and children impacted by COVID-19, except that none of that funding actually supports children and youth in foster families. The $42 million was largely allocated to child abuse prevention, which is always greatly needed, and even more so during the shelter in place order. Calls to the child abuse hotlines have been less than half of normal rates, even as domestic violence call have sharply increased. Many are predicting a flood of entries into foster care once public spaces, schools and child care centers begin to open.

Here is a breakdown of the $42 million:

  • Supporting Families Struggling to Stay Together – $27,842,000

This funding will provide a $200 per month supplement to families in the Emergency Response and Family Maintenance programs and who need additional support to be able to stay together. This funding is for prevention – supporting biological families.

  • Additional Social Worker Outreach – $6,896,552

Support for social worker overtime and additional outreach by county social workers to foster family caregivers at higher risk of COVID-19 (e.g. caregivers who are over 60 years old). Social workers will engage these caregivers to identify specific needs or concerns. This is needed, however, there is not funding included to address needs or concerns, including the additional expenses that families have incurred to educate and provide therapy and supervision to children and youth at home. Increase expenses include food, utilities, educational supplies and technology to support education at home.

  • Family Resource Centers – $3,000,000

Family Resource Centers play a critical role in preventing child abuse and neglect, strengthening children and families, and connecting families to an array of county support systems of care. Family Resource Centers serve biological families and are a key component of preventing child abuse. Family Resource Centers have not served or addressed the needs foster and kinship families before. They may receive their funding by the end of May and will have until the end of June to spend the funds. No new programs or collaborations will be launched to serve foster and kinship families, although some may allow foster and kinship families to access material items.

  • Expansion of Helplines – $250,000

Funds will assist 2-1-1 and Parents Anonymous to offer immediate assistance to families in crisis who are seeking assistance. Parents Anonymous will provide expanded hours of services, link parents to online support groups and will make referrals to county and local services and Family Resource Centers as needed. Parents Anonymous helplines are to help biological families so that their children and youth do not enter the child welfare system.

  • Age Extension for Foster Youth – $1,846,165

Approximately 200 young adults age out of the foster care system every month. Too many of them are at risk of homelessness and food insecurity. During this crisis, foster care payments and eligibility will be extended to help them maintain their living arrangements and to provide food security.

  • Additional Support for Resource Families Impacted by COVID-19 – $1,728,655

Families impacted by COVID-19 can receive higher monthly reimbursement rates to cover the extra costs associated with supporting children with more complex needs. Flexibility for counties to use these reimbursement rates will make sure that foster children can stay in their homes and not be moved into shelters or other facilities. Families who have a COVID-19 infection may be eligible for this rate increase.

  • Extended Timeframe for Caregiver Approvals – $166,000

Funding will allow caregivers to continue to be paid beyond 365 days while awaiting Resource Family Approval. The extension in funding is required due to delays in caregiver approvals and caseworker diversion to emergency work. This will help a small number of families because of the delay in approval.

  • Access to Technology – $313,128

This will help college aged students first with laptops and help supplement some cell phones for youth.

So, nearly all children in foster family homes have received NO extra support during the shelter in place orders. AND, to make matters worse a DESPERATELY needed program, the FAMILY URGENT RESPONSE SYSTEM has been ELIMINATED in the May budget revision. Level 2-4 care increments have been eliminated as well. Caregivers are taking children from group home settings with NO SUPPORT. We are asking volunteers to care for abused and neglected children without the support promised in the Continuum of Care Reform. We have asked volunteers to shelter in place with children who have exceptional needs and aside for offering any support, California is not ELIMINATING support desperately needed. AND, we are going to need to recruit more caregivers to do this work once foster care entries increase.

The budget situation is dire, but should we really make abused and neglected children pay the price?

If you are interested in learning more, email: jrexroad@cacaregivers.org.