Report Overlooked Large Sources of State Support for Foster Parents
Patricia Martinez, Director of the Rhode Island Department of Children, Youth and Families (DCYF) today responded to a report that was recently issued by Children Rights and the National Foster Parents Association.
The report claimed that Rhode Island's foster care payments are significantly lower than similar payments in Massachusetts and Connecticut. The report, however, neglected to account for several types of payments made by DCYF to foster parents. As a result, the average monthly payment to Rhode Island foster parents is actually closer to $729.39.
“We all agree that foster parents should be compensated fairly,” Director Martinez said. “Foster parents have earned our praise and our gratitude for caring for many of Rhode Island’s most vulnerable children. They are the backbone of the child welfare system. The issue in the report, however, is in how to calculate what is included in that compensation. Financial support for foster parents goes beyond the standard foster board payment.”
“Instead of including all types of state support for foster parents, the study relied solely on DCYF's standard board rate in determining Rhode Island's financial support to foster families,” Martinez said. “As a result, it seriously underestimates the amount of financial support that the state provides to foster care parents.”
“For instance, the report incorrectly states (p. 15) that the standard board rate is intended to cover regular ongoing expenses such as clothing,” the Director said. “However, the department actually pays ongoing clothing allowances to all children in DCYF foster care totaling between $300 and $750 per year (in 3 installments), depending upon the age of the child. Inclusion of the clothing allowance increases DCYF's average board rate to $530 per month from $438.”
“Additionally, DCYF reimburses foster parents for transportation costs for transporting children to medical and behavioral health appointments at $20 per visit on a per trip basis,” Martinez continued. “The department pays between $12 and $36.40 per day for day care and an average of $244.02 for respite care for children in foster care. Foster parents receive a holiday and birthday allowance each year to be spent on the children in the amount of $40 and $25 respectively. None of these payments were accounted for in the study. Adding all these supports to the average board rate brings the total monthly average to $729.39.”
“The department needs more time to further analyze the data to make sure that other important sources of DCYF support have not been similarly overlooked,” Martinez concluded. “Nevertheless, as DCYF continues to transform the system, supports for foster families are an important part of the equation and part of the ongoing conversation with the Rhode Island Foster Parents Association.”