After deliberating over the potential benefits and risks, Los Angeles County officials announced today that the county is submitting a non-binding letter of intent to enroll in California’s Approved Relative Caregiver Funding Option Program.
“Today we will be submitting the letter of Los Angeles County’s non-binding expression of interest to opt into the Approved Relative Caregiver (ARC) Program beginning January 1, 2015,” said Neil Zanville of the county’s Department of Children and Family Services in an email sent to The Imprint.
The new funding, initially a $30 million budget allocation, is intended to provide relative caregivers with the same level of funding as other non-relative foster caregivers. Currently, many relative caregivers receive about half of what other caregivers get on a monthly basis.
As reported by The Imprint of Social Change earlier this month, county leaders are concerned that the funding program will force the county to continue to make the payments to relative caregivers even after state funds run out.
Although the letter is non-binding, advocates are optimistic that the county will move forward with Approved Relative Caregiver Funding Option Program, which would provide additional financial support for thousands of families in the county.
“This is a big change,” said Angie Schwartz, policy director for the Alliance for Children’s Rights. “This is a new program that’s covering a brand new population of kids and everybody’s working really hard to understand the new program and get all the details in place.”
“I think it’s good people are doing it in a way that is deliberate and careful and we’re trying to make sure we get everything out so that when January 1 comes, all these kids get the funding that they need and deserve.”
Christie Renick is the Southern California Coordinator for Fostering Media Connections.