May Revision Ignores Foster Care Emergency
Sacramento, CA - The CA Alliance members who are on the frontlines serving children, youth and families are alarmed that the increasingly urgent needs of vulnerable foster youth, and those at risk of child welfare system involvement, have largely been ignored for years. With each budget proposal like this one, which provides no new money for foster youth services, the situation for California’s vulnerable youth grows more dire.
California’s governor and legislators must be clear: the fragile system supporting children, youth, and families is on the brink of collapse. Current state funding is insufficient to support the state’s goals to prevent children from entering the system, to recruit and retain enough families to provide home placements, or to support intensive residential services for severely traumatized youth. Meanwhile the costs of providing care are soaring; non-profit, community-based providers are facing nearly impossible competition to hire and retain professionals needed to meet the needs of traumatized children and families; and the mental health needs of youth in our system are intensifying.
While we support a surge of resources to meet the needs of California’s homeless population, we are puzzled that this budget does not recognize that without greater support, the state’s 53,000 foster children and youth are increasingly at risk of spending their adulthood on the streets.
We implore the administration and legislators to prioritize these investments that simply cannot wait:
- Short-Term Residential Therapeutic Programs (STRTPs) serve youth experiencing the most severe effects of trauma with intensive therapy and support, delivered in settings that feel like a home, not an institution. Despite the growing need, STRTPs are rapidly disappearing. A minimum of $43 million addition investment this year is needed to keep STRTP’s afloat; the state must consider a longer-term strategy to prevent closures and increase capacity.
- Foster Family Agencies: California must dedicate at least $11.9 million state budget funding to non-profit agencies that recruit, train and support foster families this year. This vital support keeps youth in homes, supports reunification, and tied to their communities.
- Family Resource Centers: The vital work of family resource centers, 500 trusted community partners across California, helps families ease stressors in the home and reduce the likelihood of separation. With families under more pressure than ever, keeping families together means the state must commit at least $75 million this year to these vital prevention programs.
- Workforce: Children who have been abused and traumatized count on talented and dedicated workers to support them during a vulnerable and challenging time in their lives. California must increase the rates it pays to serve children and families so we can retain these invaluable professionals and their quality of care. CalAIM should prioritize efforts to ease the state’s behavioral health provider shortages and build a workforce that includes more providers with relevant lived experience and who more accurately reflect the diverse communities they serve.