Legislature Helps Foster Parents Bridge the Child Care Gap
June 16, 2017
OAKLAND, CA – The budget passed by the Legislature yesterday includes a $31 million win for California’s foster children and their caregivers. This funding for the Emergency Child Care Bridge Program for Foster Children & Parenting Foster Youth comes at a critical time when the state is experiencing a caregiver shortfall and is striving to place more foster children in family homes.
Access to affordable child care is one of the top barriers to the recruitment and retention of foster parents and is often an impediment for parenting foster youth. Most foster parents work outside the home and need child care during their working hours, but there are multiple obstacles to accessing care, including the emergency nature of placements and long wait lists for most child care providers.
“California is in critical need of foster parents, but without access to childcare, potential caregivers are often discouraged from opening their homes to our youngest foster children due to possible loss of work time or high child care costs. The Bridge Program is an innovative solution to this issue,” Children Now President Ted Lempert said. “By including funding for the Bridge Program, the Legislature has demonstrated their commitment to ensuring our foster children are raised in nurturing, stable homes.”
Co-sponsored by Children Now, this budget item provides funding for emergency vouchers for foster families and parenting foster youth to access child care, navigators to assist them with accessing long-term child care, and training for child care providers on how to meet the needs of abused and neglected children.
The approved budget also included additional investments to ensure children from low-income, working families have increased access to quality child care and preschool programs. This includes a hard fought increase of $25 million to address outdated eligibility guidelines for families receiving state child care assistance. The agreement also makes good on last year’s budget deal by providing nearly $240 million in additional funding to raise reimbursement rates for state-funded child care and preschool programs, including a cost of living adjustment, and expanding the state preschool program. Children Now coordinated a letter from more than 500 diverse organizations across the state in support of these increases.
“We’re pleased to see the state’s leaders respond to the broad and strong support that exists for our state’s youngest and most vulnerable kids,” Lempert said.
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Children Now is a nonpartisan, multi-issue research, policy development, and advocacy organization dedicated to promoting children's health and education in California and creating national media policies that support child development. Learn more about us at www.childrennow.org.