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NY Loses $500 Million in Funding for Abused and Neglected Children

February 13, 2007

A new report from the Pew Charitable Trusts says New York has lost more than half a billion dollars in federal foster care funding. Jim Purcell, executive director of the Council of Family and Child Caring Agencies, says it amounts to the federal government "skipping out" on the bill -- in part, because of eligibility requirements that are based on obsolete standards from more than a decade ago.

"It increases the cost of providing this safety service to kids who are vulnerable, who've been abused and neglected. It also increases the cost to the state, and to the counties in New York. For some kids, it means we have to put them in foster care. Somebody has to pay the bill and the federal government is turning its back on that responsibility."

After the Nixzmary Brown tragedy, Purcell says more cases of abuse are being reported, and New York cannot afford to lose more federal funding. The state is already poised to shoulder $90 million of the increased burden, and Purcell feels it's time for a Congressional overhaul of the foster care funding system.

John Schiamanna is codirector of governmental affairs for the Child Welfare League of America. He says less money also means more clients for social workers, at a time when many are already juggling their maximum caseloads.

"They may have to see twice, or three times, the caseload. There's only so much a good caseworker can do, and that kind of stress will have an impact on those families."

Federal foster care funding was set during the 1996 Welfare Reform Act and has not been updated since.

The Pew report is available online at www.kidsarewaiting.org/reports/files/lookback.pdf.

Charles Lane/Jamie Folsom, Public News Service - NY