Action Needed: Sign on to End Practice of Placing Foster Children into Poverty

A coalition of advocates is circulating a sign-on letter calling on the California State Legislature to end the current policy of placing foster children into deep poverty. Under the current system, a relative caregiver receives a foster care benefit if the child is federally-eligible. If not, the relative caregiver may apply for the state welfare benefit CalWORKs. At issue is the extreme disparity between the two benefit levels. For a 15 year-old, the foster care rate paid is $820 per month, while the CalWORKs payment is $351, which at 37% of the federal poverty rate qualifies as deep poverty. Non-federally eligible children placed with relatives are not eligible for supplemental payments, such as the clothing allowance, transportation assistance, the infant supplement or the Specialized Care Increment for children and youth with special needs.

According to Alliance Policy Director Angie Schwartz, it’s critical to change this policy. “Relatives are the foundation of California’s child welfare system. Thirty-seven percent of our state’s foster children are placed with relatives,” said Schwartz. “Without relatives willing to step up and support children who have been abused and neglected, our entire child welfare system would collapse. And yet, we are setting our relatives up to fail by providing them support for the foster children in their care that is equal to just 37% of the poverty level.”

To read a recent policy brief about this issue, click here.  To learn more about inequities in relative foster care, click here. To add your organization’s name, or your name as an individual, to the sign-on letter, please click here. The deadline is next Tuesday, February 18.