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April 18, 2001

For more information contact:
Jamille Moens at (916) 651-4011


SACRAMENTO – Assemblymember Joe Simitian (D-Palo Alto) announced today that foster parents and relative caregivers are one step closer to receiving child care for their foster children.  Assembly Bill 1105, introduced by Assemblymember Simitian, would enable counties to provide child care as a supportive service to foster parents and relative caregivers as well as provide high quality early childhood education opportunities to foster children.  The bill successfully passed through the Assembly Human Services Committee yesterday on a 6-0 vote.
“We need to give our foster parents the resources they need to take care of our kids,” said Simitian.  “Kids in the foster care system are the State’s responsibility.  It’s up to us to find caring foster families and provide them with the services they need to do right by these kids.”

AB 1105 is part of a 13-bill reform package introduced this session that would help foster youth to prepare for college and careers, give foster parents and children more training and resources, and hold state foster-care agencies accountable for their results.

“This package of legislation will provide some common-sense reform – and a helping hand to foster youth as they prepare themselves to become productive citizens,” said Assembly Speaker Robert M. Hertzberg (D-Van Nuys). “California cannot afford to fail these kids.”

The ability to recruit and retain foster parents is becoming increasingly difficult, particularly in high cost Bay Area counties.  Over the past decade, the number of foster families in San Mateo County has been cut in half and in Santa Clara County, the number has decreased by over 60%.

Simitian’s child care bill is targeted at increasing the pool of foster parents and relative care givers by assisting them with child care expenses when they work outside the home, participate in foster parent training, or fulfill other foster care related duties.  The lack of foster care homes has resulted in children remaining in emergency shelters longer than they should or being placed in foster family agencies and group homes – all of which are costlier options for the state and counties, and less appropriate settings for the children.

“We need to do a better job for the kids in the system,” said Simitian.  “Not only can we save money by placing kids in a foster home or with a relative, more importantly, that’s where these kids deserve to be.”

A similar bill was introduced last year but was vetoed by Governor Gray Davis; but Simitian is optimistic that the Governor may yet be persuaded.  “Foster care is a priority for many of us in the Assembly this year.  My hope is that we can bring others along, including the Governor,” commented Simitian.

For high cost counties, the foster care rate is insufficient to cover the costs of both supporting the foster child and paying for child care.  The total monthly foster care payment for a four year old preschooler on average is $405, while the average monthly cost of child care for a four year old is more than $600 in Santa Clara County.

The 13-bill reform package, including AB 1105, would improve the existing foster care program by: providing better training and information for prospective adoptive parents; helping counties find more foster parents through the Foster Parent Recruitment and Retention Program; raising provider rates, and; strengthening resources for parents and foster care children, and reducing case loads for child welfare workers.

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