FY 2002 Budget Considerations
INSTITUTIONAL FOSTER CARE
PER DIEM RATE INCREASE
from 62% to 75% of cost.

BACKGROUND:

The State and their private partners participate together in the complex task of caring for Georgia’s at risk children. Among the oldest and most loyal partners are the more than 100-licensed institutional foster care providers, some of which have served Georgia's children for a century or more. These not-for-profit, community based programs provide a broad continuum of services, including residential care, emergency shelters, foster care, materinity programs, independent living programs, family counseling, parent education, and adoption.

These agencies have invested over $53,000,000 in facilities dedicated to children. The staff undergo a high level of training and demonstrate a professional ability to commit unrelentingly to the children in their care. Annually, they serve over 2000 children and youth in residential foster care. This type of care provides round-the-clock supervision that offers supplemental, and sometimes substitutional parenting to children who require out-of-home placements.

Childcare organizations demonstrate an eagerness to expand their partnerships with the State in the hopes of developing new and innovative programs designed specifically to meet more pressing needs. They possess the will, have the facilities, and attract the community support necessary for successful outcomes. Their most urgent need is for the State to provide a more reasonable level of funding for the children it places in institutional foster care facilities.

THE FACTS:

Georgia currently has 1700 children in the care of private child welfare agencies. The State has placed approximately 1200 of the children in care; the other 500 children are the result of private placements. In return for caring for these privately placed children, facilities receive nothing from the State and little support from biological parents. If these children were not provided care by these non-profit agencies, most if not all would be in Georgia's budgeted care. In spite of this significant contribution to Georgia's abuse and neglected children, Georgia reimburses agencies for State children at 62% of the cost of care for the children in their custody.

Having to supplement financially at these levels limits the effectiveness of these agencies. Salaries for quality employees, needed therapeutic services, technology and information management requirements, competitive benefit packages, and facility maintenance can not be provided with the level of reimbursement presently received by these volunteer agencies. The care of these children who are victims of abuse and neglect is often compromised because of this lack of sufficient reimbursement. These children are often failed by the system that is too under resourced to save them.

LEGISLATION DESIRED:

Please support an increase in the institutional foster care reimbursement rate from 62% to 75%. Each percentage point increase costs the state $250,000.