Tuesday, December 15, 2009

California's foster-care payments illegally low

A U.S. appeals panel has ruled that the practice of paying foster parents 80% or less of the actual cost of care is illegal. In fact, advocates say, the payments of about $500 a month cover about 60% of the actual cost.

One reason for paying more, beyond the obvious fairness of it, is that fewer people are willing to become foster parents. There are 5000 foster kids in California, compared with 16,000 in 2001, and it's not for lack of need. Here's another thing we're going to have to pay for. And we should. While there are no doubt people willing to take kids when it costs them money, it is clear there aren't enough of them. If we want to have a foster care system, we have to reimburse foster parents the cost of care. If we don't have foster parents, we have to put the kids in more expensive group homes or leave them with the biological parents.

And there's nothing in the budget left to cut. 

So we have to raise taxes. The discussion should be which ones and how much, not whether.

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