Call To Action! Support Needed for Upcoming Legislation

Child Care Budget Proposal

The Alliance for Children’s Rights requests your support of a budget request to the state legislature to establish the Child Care Bridge Program for Foster Children. Access to affordable child care is crucial for our youngest foster children. It is needed to recruit and retain loving foster families, stabilize foster placements, and to help children heal from trauma. Unfortunately, foster families struggle to access child care, especially at the time of placement when it is most critical.

According to a 2015 survey of social workers charged with finding family placements, one in four placement denials for foster children is due to the lack of available child care. Foster families have difficulty accessing child care at the time of placement because state child care programs are almost always full. Many of these programs can only sign up children during short enrollment windows that rarely align with the moment of a child’s placement into foster care.  The Bridge Program, developed by a broad coalition of leading child care and child welfare advocates,  would ensure foster families can access child care at the moment of placement by providing them with a 6-month emergency voucher to meet their immediate child care needs and the support of a child care navigator who will assist them in accessing long-term child care through the state’s subsidized child care system. Additionally, the Bridge Program will promote trauma-informed early care through a training program for child care providers.  A fact sheet, describing this $31 million budget proposal can be found here.

Please support this budget request by:

(a)    Emailing Molly Dunn (m.dunn@kids-alliance.org) your organizational logo to be added to the fact sheet;

(b)    Adapting the sample support letter and submitting it to the Assembly Budget Sub no later than March 29th and to the Senate Budget Sub no later than April 13th. You may send your letter directly to Committee staff & Members or directly to me.

(c)     Coming to the Budget subcommittee hearings to voice your support on April 6th at 3pm (Assembly Budget Subcommittee No. 1 on Health and Human Services) and on April 21st at 9am (Senate Budget Subcommittee No. 3 on Health and Human Services)

Please feel free to contact Molly Dunn (m.dunn@kids-alliance.org) if you have any questions or would like to discuss the Bridge Program.

AB 2597

The Alliance for Children’s Rights, along with the Step Up Coalition, is calling for support for AB 2597.

California is starting statewide implementation of a new,  unified process of approving foster families – called Resource Family Approval (RFA) — that will apply to both relative and non-relative foster homes.  By 2017, the only way to be approved as a new foster parent will be to go through RFA; families already approved prior to January 2017 will have additional time to convert to the new RFA standards. While RFA has positive facets, the statute was not done with relative caregivers in mind which creates unintended consequences.  Under RFA, relatives – like non-relative foster parent applicants — will be required to complete training hours, a psychosocial assessment, and risk assessment.  Unlike non-relative foster parents, they must meet these requirements while simultaneously responding to the needs of traumatized already residing in their home, and navigating the complexities of the foster care system, courts, schools, and health care systems. All of this while not being eligible for any funding until they are fully approved which can take months.

AB 2597 would amend the Resource Family Approval statute (WIC 16519.5) to account for the unique needs of relatives and non-related extended family members by; Clarifying that a relative who will need to rely on foster care payments to provide for the child’s needs, still meets the ‘financial stability’ requirement for RFA; Allow child-specific approval for kinship caregivers to enable relatives to care for a child, if in the child’s best interest, even if the relative is not able or willing to be approved as a foster parent for all children; Ensure that RFA is aligned with statutory provisions for immediate placement of children with relatives, prior to home approval; Clarify that a relative has the permanency option of “fit and willing relative” that should be accounted for during the permanency assessment; Ensure that each child placed on an emergency basis receives a CalWORKs payment pending the relative’s approval as a resource family and that foster care funding (AFDC-FC) starts within 90 days of placement even if the approval process is not yet completed, if the reason for the delay is outside the control of the family.

If you would like to support AB 2597 please follow this link to sample support letter. To learn more about AB 2597, please read the bill’s fact sheet.