Sacramento — The Sacramento County Board of Supervisors voted to opt-in to the Approved Relative Caregiver Funding Option Program (ARC) today. This will increase funds, per month, that relative caregivers of foster children receive between $302 for an infant to $469 for a child who is 15 to 20 years old. This will be in effect July 1, 2015.
Currently, foster parents caring for a non-related child receive $671 to $838, depending on the age of the child; however, relatives who take in children only receive $369 (CalWORKs), unless the primary family of the child earns less than the 1996 Federal poverty level. This increase in funding will strengthen relatives' abilities to care for their kin.
The main goal of ARC is to reduce the trauma that youth experience after being removed from their primary home. Research has clearly demonstrated improved outcomes for children around safety, stability, reduced trauma, and permanence. It is also anticipated to reduce the long-term costs of foster care, because outcomes have demonstrated that, ultimately, youth require a lower level of care that is more economical, when placed with relatives, than when they are placed with people who are not relatives.
"I am a retired person living on a fixed income, not having planned to care for a child. Our family needs have changed and her care has impacted our gas use, what type of vehicle, food consumption, home environment, social relationships, level of energy, amount of sleep, etc. Without the financial support we receive, we would not be able to provide the stability for her and her future and would be forced to seek employment outside of the home and this would not benefit her. The thought of caring for additional relative children without financial support would not be possible and that is a heartbreaking decision," says Janet McClard from Sacramento County, who provides care for a relative's child.
Sacramento County Supervisor, Phil Serna, District 1, elaborated, "Because we know that, in the long run, youth who are placed with relatives grow up to be healthier, well-adjusted and more productive, we must do what we can to maximize those opportunities."
Desiree Pollard, a Sacramento County grandmother who was the caregiver for her granddaughter, explained, "Children's needs don't change because they are placed with relatives. If we are looking for relatives to create permanency for children, relatives need the same financial support as foster parents."
Funding for ARC is comprised of three sources: Federal, State, and County CalWORKs Assistance funds for the CalWORKs portion of the ARC payment, State General Funds for the remaining portion of the ARC payment, and local funds if the other funding sources are insufficient, because the increased numbers of relative placements are not offset by reduced payments for non-relative placements.
Sacramento County's Director of Health and Human Services, Sherri Z. Heller, explains, "This is a technically complex program and issue. But, what really matters, is that if Grandma or Auntie take in a child who already trusts and loves her, then she should be just as supported as another person who is not a relative of the family."