Helping Kids Via Increased Funding

Caseload Reduction and Program Improvement
Increases funding by $98 million ($68 million state General Fund) in ongoing investments to improve outcomes of foster children and youth.

Kinship Care Parity
Increases funding by $8 million (state General Fund) to provide kin care providers additional support in a specialized care increment to meet a child’s special needs and clothing allowance currently only available in foster care placement. Also extends eligibility for kin care assistance to certain probation youth who have been living with a relative for at least 12 months.

Kinship Support Services Program (KSSP)
Approves the $2.5 million (state General Fund) proposed in the Governor’s Budget to expand Kinship Support Services and allow all counties to apply for KSSP funding.

Housing for Emancipated Youth
Increases funding for the Transitional Housing Placement Program Plus by $4 million (state General Fund) by eliminating the county share of cost for the program.

Education for Foster Children and Youth
Expands the Foster Youth Services Education Program statewide to foster children and youth in all types of placements and funds this with $8.2 million (state General Fund).

Higher Education for Foster Youth
Increases funding by $5.7 million (state General Fund) to fund additional financial aid for foster youth attending two-year or four-year colleges under the Chafee Scholarship program. This increase should fully fund all eligible foster youth.

Adoption of Hard-to-Place Youth
Increases funding by $4 million (state General Fund) above the $6.3 million (state General Fund) in the Governor’s proposed budget in January for efforts to help with the adoption children and youth over age 9.

Adoptions
Approves $12.2 million ($7.1 million state General Fund) proposed in the Governor’s Budget to hire additional state and county adoptions caseworkers.

Dependency Drug Courts
Increase funding for Dependency Drug Courts by $3 million (state General Fund) above the Governor’s May Revision amount of $2.1 million (state General Fund) to expand the program to additional counties.

IV-E Waiver
Approves $25.5 million ($10 million state General Fund) proposed in the Governor’s May Revision to facilitate county participation in the State’s new pilot project which caps federal funding in a flexible block grant to be used for a broad array of services, including upfront prevention. These funds may also be used for Program Improvement activities.

Karen Bass’ Foster Care Bills

Make a difference! Show your support for the following bills by writing letters and making calls to your congressmen and women, or show up to the hearing in Sacramento. The following bills by Assembly Member Karen Bass are set for the 6/27 hearing in Senate Human Services (Room 3191), State Capitol, Sacramento, CA. The hearing will be held at 1:30 PM: 

 

AB 1979 – Background check: waiver of fees for mentors providing service to foster youth
 NE/ST
 LA County Sheriff/ICAN
 Allows DOJ to waive fees associated with background checks for volunteer mentors who provide service to foster youth
 Senate Human Services
 
 
AB 2193 – Social Worker Caseload
 JG/NE
 SEIU/CWDA/NASW
 Establishes a statutory requirement that the state phase-in over a 5 year period, the recommendations of SB 2030.
 Senate Committee on Human Services
 Hearing: Tuesday, June 27, 2006
 
AB 2194 – ILP Services: adoption
 JG/ST
 Bass
 Provides ILP services for foster youth who are subsequently adopted.
 Senate Committee on Human Services
 Hearing: Tuesday, June 27, 2006
 
AB 2195 – Foster caregivers: emergency placement options
 NE
 Bass
 Establishes a process for assessment & approval of a relative/nonrelative extended family member’s home for an emergency placement option.
 Senate Committee on Human Services
 Hearing: Tuesday, June 27, 2006
 
AB  2216 – Child Welfare Leadership & Performance Accountability Act of 2006
 JG/NE
 Bass (various children’s advocacy groups)
 Creates a structure for leadership and accountability for the management of the multiple agencies that provide services to foster youth.
 Senate Committee on Human Services
 Hearing: Tuesday, June 27, 2006
For more information, contact: 

Office of Assemblymember Karen Bass, 47th District

State Capitol, Room 2117

Sacramento, CA 95814

T (916) 319-2047

F (916) 319-2147

 

CA Counties Unable to Match State Funds for Emancipated Youth

Call to Action!!!

Each year, approximately 5,000 foster youth, once they turn 18, are no longer eligible for foster-care services. During this pivotal time, many of these youth find themselves with no place to live.

In 2001, the California Legislature passed the Transitional Housing program for Emancipated Youth (known as THP-Plus) to address this problem. Under the program, which is limited to two years, emancipated youth are eligible for rental subsidies. What was originally going to be a fully state-funded program, evolved into legislation that required county governments to provide 60 percent match.
As a result, only three counties – San Francisco, Alameda, Contra Costa – have elected to participate, while emancipating youth in the remaining 55 counties are still left to fend for themselves.
“Clearly, the current sharing ratio is a barrier for counties to participate,” said Frank Mecca, executive director of the County Welfare Directors Association.
A bill authored by Kevin Murray, D-Los Angeles, would make the THP-Plus a fully-funded state program, this creating more consistently throughout the counties. Urge your elected representatives in Sacramento to support the Murray bill on foster care. You can fin the names and contact information for your Senate and Assembly representatives by typing in your ZIP code at www.leginfo.ca.gov. -from First Place Fund for Youth, Spring Newsletter

Book about Foster Youth Wins Literary Award

On Their Own, a new book about life after foster care wins award. From Jim Casey Youth Initiatives site:

“On Their Own: What Happens to Kids When They Age Out of the Foster Care System” is a winner of the Pro Humanitate Literary Award, North America’s premier literary award for the field of child welfare. The book was written by Martha Shirk, a former reporter for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, and Gary Stangler, executive director of the Jim Casey Youth Opportunities Initiative.

Bestowed by the Center for Child Welfare Policy of the North American Resource Center for Child Welfare, the award recognizes literary works that “exemplify the intellectual integrity and moral courage required to transcend political and social barriers to promote “best practice‿ in the field of child welfare,‿ according to Ronald C. Hughes, director of the center.

Another book, “Children in Foster Care,‿ by James G. Barber and Paula H. Delfabbro, tied with “On Their Own‿ for the 2005 Daniel Douglas Schneider Book Award and Prize. The two books were selected by a panel of peers. The awards ceremony will take place September 30 at the Child Welfare League of America’s New England Regional Training & National Child Care and Development Conference in Providence, R.I.

“On Their Own‿ (Westview Press, 2004) puts a human face on a largely invisible population. Shirk and Stangler tell the story through the lives of ten children who did not have a safety net once they were out of foster care but relied on survival skills. With a foreword by former President Jimmy Carter, the book also offers solutions, especially about education, health care, and employment.

Here’s the review from Booklist:

Foster care is designed to provide for children up until the age of 18, but what happens after that? Shirk and Stangler note in the introduction to their study that in today’s society, young people don’t tend to reach full maturity until their mid-twenties, and most children leaving foster care aren’t even equipped with the basic tools (a high-school diploma, a driver’s license or state ID, work experience) the average 18-year-old possesses. Shirk and Stangler examined several individual cases in various states to see how well the children faired. One chapter examines three brothers whose fates diverged: one is currently in jail for armed robbery, another died in a car crash, and the third is happily married with a new business. One young woman makes it through a series of foster homes and high schools to earn a hard-won college degree and a position as a teacher, while one young man yearns for a family but keeps running afoul of the law. Jimmy Carter provides the forward for this important and often heart-wrenching book. Kristine Huntley
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

From the Foreword by President Jimmy Carter
“‘On Their Own’ is a must-read account… for all Americans who care about children.”

— President Jimmy Carter

House Bills Cuts Millions to Foster Care PLEASE TAKE ACTION!

Write your Senators, urging them to REJECT the budget reconciliation bill. Already passed in the House, the bill would ultimately cut $23.6 Million in funding to California’s foster system. Most of that money would end financial support to relatives caring for foster children who would otherwise be placed with strangers. Many of these relatives, often grandparents, are on fixed incomes and would not have the financial means to care for the children without the standard foster care support.
Please read the Chronicle Editorial and write to your Senators Diane Feinstein and Barbara Boxer:
senator@feinstein.senate.gov
senator@boxer.senate.gov

Attention Knitters and Knitting Circles!

Pick Up Some Warm Red Yarn and Knit Scarves for Foster Youth! The Orphan Foundation of America is coordinating Valentine’s Day Care Packages for foster youth in colleges across the country. They need 2,500 hand-knitted or crocheted red scarves to include in the care packages. I don’t know how to knit, but I recruited my mom and picked up some yarn today.
OFA states: “It is estimated that some 13,000 former foster kids are attending colleges and universities this year, most without any family support. They are success stories merely by showing up: Studies show that less than 50 percent of foster youth graduate from high school, and less than 10 percent go on to post-secondary or vocational training.”
Become a part of this national effort to send a LOUD and CLEAR message that we care about our nation’s foster children.
To help get you started, here some links to on-line yarn and knitting stores:
knitting-warehouse.com
knitpicks.com
joanns.com
michaels.com

Youth-Led Emancipation Support Center Opens in Napa

Eight Napa teens start their own youth-led service center to help emancipating foster youth transition to life on their own.
Wow, I’m impressed with their drive and quick results.
These youth want to be an example to their peers…. well they’re a fabulous example to adults working in Child Welfare and non-profits too! Way to go!
I’m going to call about getting a tour at their facility and will post more soon.

A Home for the Holidays TV Special

Mark Your Calendars! Dec. 21 on CBS… The Dave Thomas Foundation and the Children’s Action Network present the Seventh Annual A Home for the Holidays TV Special, all about the joys of adoption.

The Dave Thomas Foundation website says:
This year, on Wednesday, December 21, “A Home for the Holidays” will once again feature well-known celebrities and performers in a variety of roles. They will touch our hearts by sharing their perspective on the joys of adoption. Each year the program features such stars as Faith Hill, Melissa Etheridge, Creed, Usher, Vanessa Carlton, Ellen DeGeneres, Martin Sheen, Sela Ward, Rene Russo, Stevie Wonder, Jamie Foxx, Sheryl Crow, Dustin Hoffman, Scott Hamilton and Mariah Carey.

“A Home for the Holidays” also features stories of families created by adoption, as well as the faces of children who are waiting to join loving, permanent homes.

I haven’t seen it in previous years but will watch this time.

Also of note, through this Dave Thomas Foundation website and Macy*s, you can order a special edition of a Christopher Radko ornament “Celebrating Adoption”

Oakland Spotlights Children Waiting For Adoption

Alameda County recently sponsored the 10th Annual Calling Out of Names of Waiting Children. The event, covered by CBS 5, called attention to all the local youth waiting for their own Forever Family. I’ll check with Alameda County to see about matches made this year. Last year, I spoke with a woman who was connected with two young sisters. I’m going to follow up with her and see if the girls’ adoption has since been finalized. What a happy story.

New Foster Care Committee Meets

A few posts ago, I wrote about Karen Bass in our State Congress who is now heading up a new task force on foster care. Yesterday, the Chronicle printed a story about the very first meeting of the Select Committee on Foster Care. The article also lists contact information for all State Assembly people currently on this foster care committee. If you care about kids, please keep this contact info somewhere handy. There may come a time when you may feel inclined to write to your Congressperson.