Thursday, August 5, 2010

California Foster Care Kids Seek to Stop $80 Million Cuts to Child Welfare System

"Better Foster Care: A Child-Powered Movement"
by Daniel Heimpel,
Project Director, Fostering Media Connections
August 4, 2010

"August 13 will mark a turning point in the battle to set the foster care system right in California and the rest of the nation. What will be your role?

Over the past decade, through ceaseless political reform and human effort, the foster care system in California, and the nation as a whole, has undergone massive positive and definitive change. The movement to set the system right has been largely driven by the people who work in or around it and has grown in force as current and former foster youth have stepped into the legislative process, advocating forcefully for what they are due...

Right now, a bill that would set California on the leading edge of national child welfare policy sits in the state senate's appropriations committee. If it is not moved out of that committee by August 13 it will, after jumping innumerable hurdles, die.

It all started last year when Governor Schwarzenegger vetoed $80 million from the child welfare services budget. A host of programs that had contributed to decreasing the number of children in foster care, and better their experiences while in and coming out of the system, were eviscerated or disbanded. In addition, hundreds of social workers were fired driving caseloads dangerously high. Further, the cuts cost as much as $53 million in matching federal funds...

Then, early in 2010, the governor's office, in a wild attempt to stymie a $20 billion projected deficit in fiscal year '10-'11, threatened the elimination of the $40 million transitional housing program (THP-Plus). This would have spilled 1,400 emancipated foster youth, ages 18-24, along with 200 of their babies, onto the street...

The May budget spared THP-Plus, but the $80 million in child welfare services cuts was sustained. This leaves the youth driven movement in the tough position of having to remobilize and mop up the hard fought gains in the $80 million battle."

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