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DCF Talks Logistics Of Expanding Foster Care

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R.Benk
/
WFSU-News

Department of Children and Families officials Tuesday held the first of what may become a series of rule-making workshops concerning a new law that allows young adults to stay in foster homes until they’re 21. But, many officials had the same question –what happens to kids who CAN’T stay in those homes?

Even though Venice State Senator Nancy Detert’s law allows foster kids to stay in their foster home after the age of eighteen, that doesn’t guarantee they’ll stay there after they reach that milestone.  Because of a foster home shortage, possible reunification with biological families and a foster parent’s right to terminate care once a child reaches 18, some young adults will now find themselves still in foster care, but living alone. Foster child lawyer Gerard Glynn’s concerns lie with how the state will pay for that independent housing.

“They may choose to leave their foster home and when they come back they can’t go back to the same foster home. So, we might put them up in an apartment and the question is how much are we willing to pay for that apartment? That’s a lot of the debate is: how do we figure that out? Is it a community by community basis? Or is it a statewide standard? And is it based on actual costs? Or is it a flat rate that we’re willing to contribute?” Glynn said.

Before Detert’s law, foster kids aging out of the system were put in a program called “Road to Independence,” which gave young adults a monthly stipend to use for rent and other living expenses if they met certain requirements. Critics say that program lacked oversight, and many kids getting the money couldn’t manage it alone. Now, state officials say they’ll be paying for housing directly. But they haven’t decided whether they’ll pay for individual leases or negotiate master leases on whole complexes to use for housing extended foster care kids. The DCF has until March to solidify the new rules.