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AZ Foster Parents: Abuse Investigations #1 Budget Cut Concern

April 7, 2009

Phoenix, AZ – One of the groups hardest hit by state budget cuts is Arizona's foster families. In March, they received news of a 20-percent cut to the program's basic funding, and money provided for diapers, school supplies and clothing will be reduced by half. However, in a new survey of foster parents, the decrease in per-child funding was only their second biggest concern.

Their top budget-cut concern, according to Kris Jacober of the Arizona Association for Foster and Adoptive Parents, is that a pared-down Child Protective Services staff may be unable to investigate every call to the state's child abuse hotline.

"It was nice to confirm what we already know - which is, families care first about kids."

The yearly clothing allowance for Arizona's 10,000 foster children was cut from $300 dollars a year to $150, and Jacober says most foster parents are already making sacrifices so their kids can participate in such activities as dance lessons or Little League baseball.

"I don't know of any foster families who don't already dig into their family budget to help support their efforts to be a foster family."

Several of the parents surveyed indicated concern that they'll have to work more hours outside the home because of the funding cuts, giving them less time to interact with their foster children. As Jacober explains, people don't become foster parents for the money, although most cannot afford to be foster parents without some state support.

"When these vulnerable, broken, neglected kids come into our homes, we just want to make sure that they have good childhood experiences and memories - and so, we will continue to do that. It's just that these cuts make it that much more difficult."

One in seven of those surveyed said they will no longer be able to afford foster parenthood unless the funding is restored. Overall, Arizona lawmakers have already cut $1.6 billion this year and face a deficit twice as large next year.

Doug Ramsey, Public News Service - AZ