California judge rules inadequate foster care payments violate federal law

This week the federal judge in a lawsuit that cited Children’s Rights’ groundbreaking report on inadequate foster care support payments nationwide ruled that California’s low payments violate federal law — and ordered the state to implement a system for determining the real cost of supporting children in foster care.

The lawsuit was filed by advocates in California to coincide with the release of Hitting the MARC: Establishing Foster Care Minimum Adequate Rates for Children, a study by Children’s Rights, the National Foster Parent Association, and the University of Maryland School of Social Work that calculated for the first time ever the real cost of providing for the basic needs of children in foster care in every state — and found that many states were falling far short of children’s needs in the support payments they provide to foster families.

The complaint filed by the advocates specifically cited Hitting the MARC (available here) and its findings pertaining to California’s rates. Regina Deihl, executive director of Legal Advocates for Permanent Parenting, one of the three organizations that brought the lawsuit, said that the MARC report provided a “critical anchor” for the case.

This week’s ruling represents an important step toward correcting the inadequacies of California’s foster care rates — which many advocates cite as a major contributing factor to the state’s steady decline in foster family recruitment and retention.

Children’s Rights, the National Foster Parent Association, and other organizations have been involved in advocacy at the state and federal levels on the issue of inadequate foster care support payments since the release of Hitting theMARC. Using the report as a cornerstone of their efforts, advocates have brought about the passage of rate increases in several states — and additional advocacy campaigns are ongoing.

To learn more about the report, check out the Hitting the MARC section of this website — including an account ofstate-by-state advocacy and results and downloadable versions of the report and state-by-state foster care rate calculations.

An article from The Los Angeles Times about the California case is available here, and editorials strongly supporting rate increases appeared today in the San Francisco Chronicle and the San Jose Mercury News.

To download a PDF of the decision, please click here.