The Georgia House of Representatives approved a budget package this week that includes a $1 per day pay raise for relatives caring for youth who have been removed from the homes of their parents.
The state Senate will now take up the budget, and that will likely be followed by a conferencing process to work out any differences between the two chambers.
The rate hike was proposed by State Rep. Mary Margaret Oliver (D), who told The Imprint of Social Change in late January that she planned to ask for it. As the state’s foster care population has skyrocketed in recent years, the Division of Family and Child Services (DFCS) has started to rely more often on kinship placements in removal cases.
“Research is convincing that children taken from their parents do better when placed with extended family,” Oliver said in a January interview. “A policy to pay low-income family members less than state-recruited foster care parents for care doesn’t help the child.”
More than 7,000 unlicensed relatives are caring for foster youth in Georgia. According to DFCS Director Tom Rawlings, who discussed foster care payments at a January budget hearing, those relatives receive about $3 less per day than other licensed foster parents.
The $1-per-day raise is expected to cost “about $2.6 million,” Rawlings said at the hearing.