Facing a Foster Care Crisis, One State Seeks to Increase Payments to Foster Parents

There were more than 7,000 children in West Virginia's foster care system as of January, the highest per-capita rate in the nation.

There were more than 7,000 children in West Virginia's foster care system as of January, the highest per-capita rate in the nation. Shutterstock

 

Connecting state and local government leaders

A proposal in the West Virginia Legislature would increase monthly payments to foster parents, pay child-placing agencies for finalized adoptions and create a foster parent's bill of rights.

Hoping to generate more placements for foster children, legislators in West Virginia are considering a proposal that would increase payments to host families and outline specific rights for both foster parents and children.

The bill, approved 96-1 by the state’s House of Delegates, would increase minimum payments for foster families from $600 to $900 per month. To be eligible, families would need to be certified through the state Department of Health and Human Resources, meaning some blood relatives caring for children would not receive the increased stipend.

The state would also pay child-placing agencies a minimum of $1,000 for each finalized adoption.

Those measures would cost the state about $17 million, according to a fiscal analysis. That cost estimate led Del. Pat McGeehan, a Republican from Chester, to cast the lone 'no' vote.

But proponents said the increased expense was worth it when considering the scope of the West Virginia’s foster care crisis. There were 7,037 children in state custody as of January, the highest per-capita rate in the nation, according to state data. That’s believed to be largely due to the opioid crisis, as state officials have estimated that roughly 85% of children in custody have at least one parent who struggles with substance abuse.

“Great emphasis has been placed on the projected cost of this bill but we must acknowledge that this is an investment, an investment in West Virginia children,” Del. Jason Barrett, a Democrat from Martinsburg, said during floor debate. “With these necessary increases, agencies will be able to recruit and retain more foster families."

The legislation would also create a bill of rights for foster parents. These rights would include receiving state-provided training, getting assistance “when dealing with loss and separation when a child leaves the foster home,” receiving financial reimbursement by the 25th of each month and having an emergency contact available 24 hours a day.

The proposal also updates the state’s existing bill of rights for foster children, meant to acknowledge and support them as “active and participating members of this system.” Among other things, the bill of rights says that foster children are entitled to live in settings that are "safe, healthy and comfortable," as well as the least restrictive one possible. They should also be treated with respect and have access to medical and dental care. The state would also consider a child’s “ability to remain with siblings, religious preferences, and other factors which may be important to the child and family” when selecting a foster placement.

The state’s foster care ombudsman would investigate violations of either bill of rights, according to the proposal.

At least 15 states have enacted legislation creating a foster children’s bill of rights, and 17 states have created a version for foster families, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

The bill moved to the Senate on Thursday and now awaits a hearing before the judiciary committee. 

Kate Elizabeth Queram is a Staff Correspondent for Route Fifty and is based in Washington, D.C.

NEXT STORY: Millions of Americans Rely on Crowdfunding for Medical Expenses

X
This website uses cookies to enhance user experience and to analyze performance and traffic on our website. We also share information about your use of our site with our social media, advertising and analytics partners. Learn More / Do Not Sell My Personal Information
Accept Cookies
X
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Do Not Sell My Personal Information

When you visit our website, we store cookies on your browser to collect information. The information collected might relate to you, your preferences or your device, and is mostly used to make the site work as you expect it to and to provide a more personalized web experience. However, you can choose not to allow certain types of cookies, which may impact your experience of the site and the services we are able to offer. Click on the different category headings to find out more and change our default settings according to your preference. You cannot opt-out of our First Party Strictly Necessary Cookies as they are deployed in order to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting the cookie banner and remembering your settings, to log into your account, to redirect you when you log out, etc.). For more information about the First and Third Party Cookies used please follow this link.

Allow All Cookies

Manage Consent Preferences

Strictly Necessary Cookies - Always Active

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data, Targeting & Social Media Cookies

Under the California Consumer Privacy Act, you have the right to opt-out of the sale of your personal information to third parties. These cookies collect information for analytics and to personalize your experience with targeted ads. You may exercise your right to opt out of the sale of personal information by using this toggle switch. If you opt out we will not be able to offer you personalised ads and will not hand over your personal information to any third parties. Additionally, you may contact our legal department for further clarification about your rights as a California consumer by using this Exercise My Rights link

If you have enabled privacy controls on your browser (such as a plugin), we have to take that as a valid request to opt-out. Therefore we would not be able to track your activity through the web. This may affect our ability to personalize ads according to your preferences.

Targeting cookies may be set through our site by our advertising partners. They may be used by those companies to build a profile of your interests and show you relevant adverts on other sites. They do not store directly personal information, but are based on uniquely identifying your browser and internet device. If you do not allow these cookies, you will experience less targeted advertising.

Social media cookies are set by a range of social media services that we have added to the site to enable you to share our content with your friends and networks. They are capable of tracking your browser across other sites and building up a profile of your interests. This may impact the content and messages you see on other websites you visit. If you do not allow these cookies you may not be able to use or see these sharing tools.

If you want to opt out of all of our lead reports and lists, please submit a privacy request at our Do Not Sell page.

Save Settings
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Cookie List

A cookie is a small piece of data (text file) that a website – when visited by a user – asks your browser to store on your device in order to remember information about you, such as your language preference or login information. Those cookies are set by us and called first-party cookies. We also use third-party cookies – which are cookies from a domain different than the domain of the website you are visiting – for our advertising and marketing efforts. More specifically, we use cookies and other tracking technologies for the following purposes:

Strictly Necessary Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Functional Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Performance Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Social Media Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Targeting Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.