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Should California counties opt in to change foster care?

by AirTalk®

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Foster parent Tamar Chateff and 2-year-old Charlotte look in the fridge for an afternoon snack while at home on Friday, March 28. Maya Sugarman/KPCC

California’s foster care system is under near-constant criticism, but the state budget may offer one fix: more money for caregivers who take in a relative.

Currently, caregivers who foster a relative receive poverty-level subsidies -- a small fraction of the aid given to non-relative foster parents. A budget change that will take effect in 2015 will allow California counties to opt in to and aid match, giving caretaker-relatives the same subsidies as non-relative foster parents.

Proponents say that the program will allow children in the foster care system to stay with their families, and will incentivize caregiving for relatives who may not have been able to take on the financial burden in the past. Still, many counties have held off on opting in, concerned about how to fund the subsidies once state money runs out.

Is a financial fix for California’s foster care program sustainable? How would it change the landscape of foster care in Los Angeles County and other California counties? What are the potential benefits and drawbacks for children and families?

Guest:

Angie Schwartz, policy director at the Alliance for Children’s Rights

Daniel Heimpel, executive director with Fostering Media Connections

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