Children in Foster Care Urgently Need Our Protection

Kids in foster care experience trauma, visit emergency rooms, and fight depression at significantly higher rates than other kids. For years they fought for a way to get help, which led to the creation of FURS – a 24/7, statewide hotline that provides in-person help for any situation where youth or caregivers feel they need it. It’s designed by foster families, for foster families, and has answered over 11,000 calls for help since launching in 2021. The program works, and kids in foster care rely on it. Yet in January’s budget proposal, FURS was eliminated completely. So now we need your help to ensure that when the final budget is passed this summer, foster kids get to keep the critical lifeline they helped create.  

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Sign Ons To-Date
Governor Gavin Newsom
1021 O Street, Suite 9000
Sacramento, CA 95814
The Honorable Robert Rivas
Speaker, State Assembly
1021 O Street, Suite 8330
Sacramento, CA 95814
The Honorable Mike McGuire
President pro Tempore, State Senate
1021 O Street, Suite 8610
Sacramento, CA 95814
The Honorable Jesse Gabriel, Chair
Assembly Committee on Budget
1021 O Street, Room 8230
Sacramento, CA 95814
The Honorable Scott Wiener, Chair
Senate Budget & Fiscal Review Committee
1020 N Street, Room 502
Sacramento, CA 95814
The Honorable Corey Jackson, Chair
Assembly Budget Subcommittee No. 2
1021 O Street, Room 8230
Sacramento, CA 95814
The Honorable Caroline Menjivar, Chair
Senate Budget & Fiscal Review Subcommittee No. 3
1020 N Street, Room 502
Sacramento, CA 95814

RE: Restore Critical Supports for Children and Youth in Foster Care: Family Urgent Response System (FURS)

Dear Governor Newsom, Speaker Rivas, President pro Tempore McGuire, Chair Gabriel, Chair Skinner, Chair Jackson, and Chair Menjivar:

We are writing to urge you to restore dedicated supports and services for California’s children and youth in foster care in the 2024-25 state budget. These critical programs ensure children and youth in foster care have access to the stability, trauma-informed supports, and housing they need to heal from abuse, neglect, and removal from their communities. The proposed reductions threaten to harm the very children and youth the State has a moral and legal obligation to support and protect.

Among these reductions to child welfare programs, the budget proposes to eliminate the Family Urgent Response System (FURS,$30 million General Fund ongoing), which was created by and for youth currently or formerly in foster care and their caregivers to provide critically needed, immediate, 24/7, individualized, trauma-informed support. Established in 2019, FURS consists of a statewide hotline and county mobile response teams that respond to any situation where youth or caregivers have identified the need for extra support, including those with the potential to lead to placement disruptions or unnecessary contact with law enforcement. This coordinated state and community-based solution helps preserve relationships and placements in family homes, link youth and families to longer-term supports and services, promote healing, and prevent the criminalization of youth who have experienced trauma. FURS is also a critical resource to promote stability for older youth (up to age 21) currently or formerly in foster care who are living on their own.

Since FURS launched, utilization has grown steadily, with approximately 5,000 requests for support made annually to the statewide hotline. Many of those calls have resulted in an in-person response from a county mobile response team. Initial data shows that the vast majority of these calls have resulted in stabilized placements and ongoing supports for the child, youth, and/or caregiver. Moreover, there are hundreds of stories about how FURS has:

  • Helped new relationships develop and grow when a child first becomes part of the family.
  • Supported caregivers and youth as they work through disagreements.
  • Connected youth to community-based resources and supports to meet their unique needs.
  • Resolved barriers students in foster care experience to attending and thriving in school.
  • Ensured caregivers have access to the supports they need for the wellbeing of the children and youth in their care.

FURS plays a critical role in improving outcomes for children and youth in foster care. Eliminating this vital program will place these children and youth at greater risk of instability, disrupted relationships, loss, and re-traumatization.

We appreciate that California is facing a budget deficit. However, we must not address this shortfall at the expense of our children, particularly those in foster care to whom the State has a legal and moral responsibility. We strongly urge you to uphold California’s duty to these children and youth and restore FURS and the other eliminated programs and services pivotal to the safety and wellbeing of young people in foster care.

Sincerely,

The Undersigned Organizations