Foster Care Funds on the Chopping Block in Arizona

Money for Arizona’s foster care system may fall victim to the state’s budget process if the legislature can’t come up with additional funds. Phoenix’s ABC 15 spoke to one foster family to get their reaction.

Matthew and Cathy Barto have fostered six children over the last seven years, and they don’t understand why state lawmakers would even consider a 60-percent cut to their monthly payments.

The cuts could take as much as $49 million per month from foster parents. That means less money to help them take care of the children who depend on them. The Bartos say these cuts could have an impact on the ability of families to foster children:

“We’re willing to give our time but we can’t afford to pay for it too,” she said. “And taking that money away, that’s like telling people to take in these children and you have to foot the bill.”

It is unbelievable that state lawmakers would even consider such catastrophic cuts because children shouldn’t have price tags, the Bartos said.

There is no way a lot of people who have willingness to do it could afford to do it, Cathy said.

The Bartos receive $42 a day for the two girls they currently foster. A 60-percent cut equals roughly $17 per day, or $240 per month for each girl.

According to Margaret Soberg of Christian Family Care, there are more than 11,500 children in Arizona foster care, but fewer than 10,000 foster homes. A cut in funding could discourage potential foster families from opening their homes to children in need.

A spokesman for Arizona Governor Jan Brewer told ABC 15 that she is optimistic the legislature will come up with the funds needed to prevent any cuts. While Arizona’s foster families are left to wait on the legislature’s decision, Matthew Barto offers this reminder:

“These are our children,” Barto said. “A society that doesn’t take care of their children is not much of a society at all.”