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Thousands of Kids to Be Homeless?

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State legislators are making it difficult for moms who want to foster a child and make a difference.

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The futures of thousands of children nationwide could be bleak, due to state budget cuts across the country which could slash funds for child welfare services and foster care programs. While many moms have it in their hearts to foster and adopt children, less state assistance for foster parents will stretch an already tight budget even tighter.

"It does affect their decision," said National Foster Parent Association's Kristin Kundert about the reduction in funds. "They think, 'Am I able to provide for them after adoption?'"

Child Share volunteer and foster mom Alena Strickland said, "I just quickly divided what we get per day for a foster child, which is $15 a day and it doesn't cover what they need. If they cut it further, other people won't be able to afford to do it. The last thing we want to do is axe out people's ability to foster them, especially when there are 60,000 foster kids in LA County right now--enough kids to fill Dodger Stadium. For people who have money they'll be OK, but for people who just want to take the kids and make a difference, they can't afford to have less." Alena has taken in 112 foster kids over the last 20 years.

Here are some of the current state cuts:

California's proposed state budget will reduce child welfare services and foster care programs by $320 million. There are 60,000 foster children in Los Angeles County alone.

Last June, Washington State's budget for adoption workers was cut, leaving many would-be adoptive parents to fend for themselves regarding mandatory home study courses, according to the NFPA.

In Maine, one of many proposed cuts includes a cap of daily adoption assistance payments that is 30% lower than other state rates.

State lawmakers in Florida are considering a $100 million cut to children's services, making it even more difficult for moms to care for children with special needs.

Regarding California's budget changes, Governor Schwarzenegger spokesperson Lisa Page said, "The governor understands the impact of these cuts, which is why he is proposing structural budget reform to stop this roller coaster ride once and for all. There are years that we have lots of money, where we put extra money in a rainy day fund so for years like this one where we have a $17 million deficit, we can fund California's priorities. The governor will continue to be a supporter of the foster care system."

For moms looking to help, Alena recommends writing your local legislators as much as possible. "Sometimes I don't think legislators know the need or the numbers; sometimes they don't know the amount of child abuse that is going on right in their backyard. I recruit homes that the county can license for foster care services. If the homes go down, we're all in big trouble."

What do you think about the proposed cuts?


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