Foster Care

California’s $140 Million Bet on Foster Parent Recruitment

California has spent about $140 million over the past three-plus years to find foster parents for the state’s most vulnerable children.

California has spent about $140 million over the past three-plus years to find foster parents for the state’s most vulnerable children, but some advocates are worried that some of these funds were little more than a giveaway to county child welfare departments, with little oversight from the state and an uncertain impact.

In looking at one year—the fiscal year 2016-2017—counties across California spent more than $40 million collectively to help support relatives during drawn-out approval processes brought on by state reforms. That same year, Riverside County spent more than $1.7 million importing a successful recruitment model from St. Louis. But other counties spent the money on office supplies, such as color printers and ink, laptops and Wi-Fi-jetpacks. 

Even with the huge influx of funds with very few strings attached, many counties have still struggled to recruit new foster parents. And some of the money still has not been spent. In 2016-2017, more than half of the allocated money—or nearly $23 million— had not been spent by the end of the year.

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