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Re: “Arizona Daily Star: Foster Care System in Crisis

Arizona doesn’t have too few foster parents. Arizona has too many foster children. Child abuse did not double in Pima County over the past decade. Rather, the state adopted a take-the-child-and-run approach in response to high profile fatality cases, often taking children when family poverty is confused with “neglect.” Arizona tears apart families at rates up to double those in states widely regarded as, relatively speaking, models for keeping children safe. And the rate of removal in Pima County is well above the state average.

Not only does that do enormous harm to the children needlessly removed, it also overloads the system, so workers have even less time to find children in real danger – that’s the real reason for the horror stories that make headlines. Full details are in the report my organization released on Arizona child welfare, on our website here:

As for cuts, I’m a-lifelong-liberal-non-countercultural-McGovernick-lapsed-card-carrying- member-of-the-ACLU. I’m a tax and spend liberal and proud of it. But the cuts to worry about are the cuts in programs to help families together, including basic help to ameliorate the worst effects of poverty – things like housing assistance and day care.

The one area Arizona doesn’t have to worry about is foster parent pay. The cuts were from rates that were the second highest in the entire nation. Even with the cuts Arizona pays foster parents far more than most states: More than $7,400 per child per year. And since it’s considered “reimbursement” it’s tax free.

Yes, foster parents have to dip into their own pockets – a little. That’s how it should be. An act of charity and love is just that. If you volunteer to tutor a child after school do you demand that your mileage to get to the school be reimbursed? Of course not. You might even buy some of your own supplies. Similarly, would you want a child placed with someone who demanded government reimbursement to throw a foster child a birthday party? Anyone in Arizona who decides not to be a foster parent because of these cuts probably shouldn’t be a foster parent. Details on this are in a post to our Child Welfare Blog here:

Richard Wexler
Executive Director
National Coalition for Child Protection Reform

3 likes, 8 dislikes
Posted by nccpr on 05/03/2011 at 5:41 AM

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