First Steps on Foster Care

Publication: San Franisco Chronicle

09/14/2005 - As bad as federal financing for foster care is, it's about to get even worse.For 10 years, the federal government has had the ability to grant states flexibility in the use of federal child-welfare funds, thanks to a rare move by Congress in 1994 to improve the foster-care system.

The Title IV-E waiver program was intended to promote innovative programs, and has led to practices that support alternatives to foster-care placements.

In San Francisco, for example, the county works with nonprofit agencies on "differential programs," helping at-risk families through domestic-abuse programs, substance-abuse programs and employment services. The goal is to help stabilize the family rather than remove the child from the home. However, because such services are not covered by federal dollars, the county has been using a one- time state grant, along with county funds, meaning the services are in constant danger of being cut. With the waiver, such preventive services could be secured and expanded in San Francisco, as well as other counties. But on March 31, this waiver authority will expire as a result of the budget reconciliation bill, which Congress passed on Feb. 1.

Go to the full article on the San Francisco Chronicle's site--Feds abandon foster-care plan

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