There have been concerns for years in Colorado about the inconsistency in the subsidy amounts given to foster families in different counties. According to the Denver Post, the subsidies can vary between hundreds of dollars. For example, in Colorado, Mesa County’s subsidy is $435, Larimer county was $45, and El Paso’s was $313. Additionally, there are concerns about a difference in subsidy amounts between foster care and adoption.
Many foster families rely on the subsidy or financial assistance provided by the state to help them meet the costs of caring for an extra child. This financial assistance is to be used for the child’s basic needs, but also for any medical or mental health resources that the child might need.
Additionally, many families are encountering hardships in meeting medical expenses. Many families are finding out that doctors or mental health providers won’t accept Medicaid insurance, which is primarily, and sometimes solely, given to children in care. These families are having to pay out of pocket to get the medical and mental health services these children need.
Ombudsman Stephanie Villafuerte stated to the Denver Post, “It’s concerning to me that it has indeed been 15 years that these problems have been ongoing and have not been fully resolved.” She is referring to the many areas that were brought up in a recent foster care investigation completed in Colorado. She is hoping the State and Department of Children Services will address the concerns that arose, including the inconsistency of funding between families in foster care and adoption, the lack of education given to families about available financial resources, and the overall concern for the well-being of children in care with these limited resources. It has been shown that more financial resources improve placement longevity, so a child can stay in one home for a longer period of time and does not have to bounce around from home to home with no consistency.
In the Colorado foster care system, as with many across the country, the big question is; why do these huge discrepancies in resources exist? We need quality foster care for our children, which means that foster parents should not be penalized. Foster parents don’t want to profit from providing foster care, they just want to provide for the child.