A statewide tiered foster care rate system, determined by the newly developed Level of Care (LOC) protocol, was scheduled to go into effect on May 1, 2018 but has been delayed. What does this mean for current and incoming foster youth?
The new tiered rates, which are determined by the LOC protocol, went into effect for placements through a Foster Family Agency (FFA) on March 1, 2018 and were to be implemented statewide on May 1, 2018. However, pursuant to All County Letter (ACL) 18-48, the statewide implementation of the tiered rates has been delayed. This means that the new tiered rates are not in effect for children who are placed into a county approved or licensed home outside of an FFA. This includes nearly all children placed with relatives or non-relative extended family members. Instead, these families will continue to receive the basic rate (currently $960 per month) and any applicable county specialized care increments (SCI). However, children placed through an FFA will continue to be assessed using the LOC protocol and receive the tiered rate commensurate with that assessment.
The delay in implementation allows the Department of Social Services (DSS) to continue to assess the reliability and accuracy of the LOC protocol prior to a statewide rollout and make any necessary changes to the protocol. In addition, the delay allows counties additional time to update their SCI plans. SCIs have historically been the rate available to provide for the additional needs of children placed outside of an FFA and counties will need to continue to operate their SCI programs after full implementation of the new tiered rates. Therefore, it is critical that counties have sufficient time to review and update their SCI plans to ensure that the specialized care rates conform to the new tiered foster care rates. County revisions to their SCI plans are due to DSS by June 30, 2018. The updated SCI plans will not take effect until the LOC protocol is implemented following additional guidance by DSS.
Watch the Department of Social Services update video for additional information.