On October 24, 2017, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors heard a motion brought by supervisors Hilda Solis and Sheila Kuehl asking DCFS to report back within 60 days about the feasibility of extending gap funding to relative caregivers (and non-relative extended family caregivers) pending resource family approval. The motion also requests an assessment of the barriers leading to approvals taking more than the 90 days provided by state regulations. The Alliance testified in support of this important motion. Here is a transcript of that testimony.
My name is Elise Weinberg, and I am a policy attorney with the Alliance for Children’s Rights. The Alliance for Children’s Rights works to protect the rights of abused and neglected children and youth, and to improve practices and policies in the child welfare system.
California’s recent reform of the foster care system, attempts to minimize the placement of children in congregate care and to promote their placement in families. However, without providing full support to caregivers immediately upon placement, that vision will not translate into real change.
When a child comes into foster care, the county often first seeks to place that child with a relative or family friend. In these situations, the relatives and family friends are working to meet all the new state requirements to become a resource family while simultaneously responding to the needs of the traumatized children in their care.
Los Angeles County has provided caregivers with a $400 monthly stipend for up to three months of the approval process to help bridge the gap between placement and approval. However, it is taking much longer than 90 days for caregivers to be approved as resource families. We are seeing caregivers struggle for months to make ends meet, and they are struggling to provide for the children already placed in their care. The motion before the Board today requires an analysis of the barriers that are causing delays in approvals and whether extending the emergency stipend is possible—both are critical to ensure that families are not suffering and that children are not subjected to continuing instability
This motion recognizes families’ need for critical support and services when the foster care system puts children in those families’ care. Thank you Supervisor Solis and Supervisor Kuehl for authoring the motion and for the opportunity to speak in its support.
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