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Foster parents sue state

Post by Jordan Schrader / The News Tribune on Jan. 18, 2011 at 11:11 am with 5 Comments »
January 18, 2011 11:11 am

An association of foster parents says it filed a lawsuit against state government today seeking more money in reimbursements for their care.

The Foster Parent Association of Washington State says the state has violated the federal Child Welfare Act by setting its payment rates to foster parents too low to cover children’s basic needs.

State lawyers have spent a lot of time in court arguing about foster care. As part of a 2004 legal settlement of the lawsuit known as the Braam case, the state has promised to make dozens of reforms, including more visits by social workers to foster homes.

Full news release from the association:

Today, the Foster Parent Association of Washington State filed a lawsuit with the U.S. District Court alleging that the State of Washington violates the federal Child Welfare Act by failing to reimburse foster parents for the cost of basic care provided to foster children.  Specifically, Washington’s basic foster care maintenance rates do not comply with the Child Welfare Act – a federal law – because they do not cover the “cost of (and cost of providing) food, clothing, shelter, daily supervision, school supplies, a child’s personal incidentals, liability insurance with respect to a child and reasonable travel to the child’s (biological) home for visitation and reasonable travel for the child to remain in the school in which the child is enrolled at the time of placement.”  The federal Child Welfare Act provides reimbursement to the State for a portion of the costs associated with foster care.  The scope of the lawsuit is limited.  It seeks only that which foster parents, on behalf of foster children, are entitled to under federal law.  Nothing more and nothing less.

The lawsuit references a national study entitled “Hitting the MARC: Establishing Foster Care Minimum Adequate Rates for Children.”  According to the study, Washington’s basic foster care maintenance rates need to increase by more than 60% on average, and the rate for children from birth to 4 years old needs to increase by more than 75%, in order for the rates to reimburse foster parents for the costs of the items in the Child Welfare Act.  Washington is in the bottom third of all states when it comes to reimbursing foster parents for the cost of basic care provided to foster children.

“Last night, we honored many good people at our Annual Awards Dinner “Night of 1000 Dreams,” began Beth Canfield, Co President of the Foster Parent Association of Washington State (FPAWS).

“We honored social workers, state employees and state leaders who are part of Children’s Administration and the Ombudsman for Children and Family Services.  We honored foster parents, elected officials, law firms, and a camp that reunites siblings who have been separated because of the foster care system.  What do these people all have in common?  We are all advocates for foster children, partners in looking out for our kids,” said Canfield.

“Today, the Foster Parent Association of Washington State is here to take another giant step.  We are here to take action to help foster children obtain the care that they are entitled to under federal law and to help those who volunteer 24/7 for these kids¾their foster parents¾by filing a lawsuit on their behalf.”

Canfield went on to say:

Every single day, thousands of individuals in this state prove how much they are devoted to kids who come into their care.  They get up and prepare the children in their care for the day ahead and for a life better than the one from which they came. They feed them, get them to school, to the doctor, to counselors. They keep them connected to their biological families. They stand up for them when others haven’t or won’t. They hold and comfort them when the demons of their past lives come visiting. They help shoulder the emotional, physical and mental baggage accumulated from life journeys so dreadful most of us can’t even imagine. They try to build for them as normal a life as possible.  Every day, in every way, they advocate for the interests of the children in their care. It is tough work. And they don’t have to do it.

They don’t have to care for lives damaged by every kind of abuse and neglect possible. But they do.
They take into their homes¾and often their hearts¾young lives torn from homes and communities, tossed about on a sea of uncertainty, confused, angry, scared, lonely and alone, often deeply troubled through no fault of their own, forsaken and forced at a young age to hope the next home they enter will provide the love and nurturing they are seeking.

Mike Canfield, Co President of FPAWS took the podium and continued:

“Foster parents are not paid for their time.  They do not receive a salary or a paycheck.  In fact, foster parents are required to demonstrate that they independently have sufficient money to care for their family before they can even be licensed as foster parents.

But federal law does require the State to reimburse foster care parents for the basic costs of caring for foster children.  And that is what foster care maintenance payments are: they are payments made to foster parents on behalf of foster children that reimburse these volunteer parents for the costs of caring for the children.  This money is for the kids, not the foster parents.”

“If you are a parent, just think of how much it costs to provide for your own children. Could you do it for what is being asked of foster parents?  Keep in mind that this money is designed to build as normal a life for these children as that sought by those who raise their own children.  Sometimes these children arrive at our homes with almost nothing, sometimes simply the clothes on their back.”

“Let us be clear: we are only seeking in this lawsuit that which foster children are entitled to under federal law.  Nothing more, and nothing less.  This lawsuit is unrelated to the current budget crisis facing our state.  Rather, we went back 30 years, well before our current budget crisis.  We went clear back to 1980 when Ronald Reagan was first elected President and John Spellman was Governor of our state.  The reimbursement rate now ranges from $423 to $575, depending on the age of the child.  Not only does the reimbursement rate paid by the State of Washington fail to reimburse for the costs required by the Child Welfare Act, but the nominal increases to the reimbursement rate do not even keep up with normal inflation.”

“We have heard about studies done in other States that show it costs more to kennel a dog than the state reimburses foster parents to care for a child.  I did a little research and found that to be true. A quick check of Google for kennels in the Seattle area found the average rate for kenneling to be over $40 dollars a day. More if you wanted the dog fed and bathed!  In comparison, the State reimburses foster parents from $14 to $19 a day.”

“I am a happy grandparent now with three sons and grandkid number 4 on its way. I love it so much I try to encourage my kids to have more grandkids!  But, being the responsible adults that we raised, they respond, “we would if we could afford it…the cost of daycare alone is $1500 a month.”

“As foster parents we are these children’s first line advocates.   We believe the way our State is treating these children is wrong.  We believe that federal law entitles these children to more that what the State is providing.  Reimbursing foster parents at the current rates does not allow these children to live normal lives.  At FPAWS, we think this is just wrong and if the foster children of this State could be here today we believe they would say so themselves.  But they can’t.  So we are taking action for them.”

“In the big picture, we are talking about a few thousand kids; their voice is small; their global footprint is small.  Hence they do not get the kind of attention they need by the citizens of our State. We want to change that.  It is our hope and our belief that by filing this suit, we will make the lives of each of these children better.”

Leave a comment Comments → 5
  1. dankuykendall says:

    This has gone on over 30 years that I know of. My wife and I started foster parenting in 1980 and stopped in 2005. If we didn’t use our money from me working outside the home, many things would not have been possible. The state is responsible for these children which has been upheld by several lawsuits nad still does not do what is right.

  2. What a crock! The new welfare. Have your kid bear as many kids as possible, then gives them up to the ‘Grandparents’ who get the big bucks to raise their progeny. What a lot of crap. OR, those who are too messed up in real life to get a real job but who can fill out the paperwork to raise some foster kid, again for the big bucks.
    Money for nothing.

  3. toshort30 says:

    There are alot of foster homes out there that only have foster kids for THE MONEY. They dont care if the kids get any new clothes or whatever. I know of 6 right now that will be closed down due to this problem. Kids in foster care dont need to live the high life and the foster parents dont need to be driving BMW’s that have been paid for by the foster childs money. Some foster homes are nasty and the kids dont even get a stupid tooth brush. yeah go ahead and flag my message but I will back the state up on it all. Not all foster homes are bad I do know 1 that they dont even care about the money they just want their foster kids to be able to live. FYI: When a child is placed into care and doesnt have any clothes the state will give clothing vouchers, so you cant say they dont get help from somewhere. I had 3 girls in my care and they provided a 500.00 voucher for clothes and food. My point is if your gonna be a foster parent dont try to live the high life while they are in your care and then blame it on the state that you dont have any money to take care of them, take their money and make sure they are taken care of. And yes state workers need to do more in home studies to weed out the bad foster homes.

  4. eclecticdyslexic says:

    Being a former foster child, I can relate to the “parents” lament. I remember my first morning in a home, here in Washington state, whence a “father” of an adopted foster child was asking some serious questions. The child was about 4-5 that I remember, I was only 9 or 10… 5th grade. Anywho’s I recall the “father” asking the child why he had taken daddy’s white powder. The boy replied that he “just wanted to see why daddy had it under his pillow all the time. ” I can fully understand the dire circumstances these parents are facing. With more and more budget cuts and an ever worsening economy, the expenditures for personal fulfillment become much harder to acquire. If you REALLY want to help kids in need, don’t donate change to transients, donate bread, blankets, books, clothes… Donate to your local rehabilitation center to get the foster kids’ parents off drugs & alcohol and back into their families life. STOP WASTING YOUR TIME B!TCH!NG ABOUT HOW BAD FOSTER PARENTS ARE UNTIL YOU ARE ONE! Walk a mile in their shoes before you criticize them… that way, you’re a mile away and you have their shoes…No child left behind, just swept under the rug… and for the honest to goodness foster parents out there… I do feel your pain… but the three foster kids you are collecting on, over the age of 16… CAN GO GET A JOB!!!

  5. toshort30 says:

    I know you aint talking about me as I was a foster mom and had 3 foster kids and 4 of my own, which I took good care of them all while my husband was deployed for a year. I know there are good foster homes out there I am talking about the bad ones if you read my post right. the dont need extra money for themselves, the money they get for the kids need to go on the kid and not their high life. I know one right now that is in trouble for using the kids money to go to the casino so dont down me nor anyone else that stands up against the bad foster homes(parents). I will be at the court house on the states side on this topic, some people in this state are to SUE HAPPY and it needs to come to a stop!!!!!!!!!

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