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December 31, 2010 > State funding aims to reduce long-term foster care

State funding aims to reduce long-term foster care

Santa Clara County starts pilot project with three out of 14 California counties selected as grant recipients

Submitted By Gwendolyn Mitchell and Marina Hinestrosa

The Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors budgeted $400,000 in State funding for year one of a grant to reduce the time African-American children and youth spend in the foster care system. This grant will fund a five-year pilot program to examine barriers to finding permanent homes and identify practices that have proved effective in overcoming such barriers. The State wishes to replicate successful strategies throughout California.

"We are committed to addressing the needs of African-American youth who are disproportionately represented within the California child welfare system and face critical barriers to finding a permanent home," said County of Santa Clara Supervisor Dave Cortese, Chair of the Board's Children, Seniors and Families Committee. "Collaborating with State, local and non-profit agencies we can exchange knowledge and experiences and explore options to develop a system that could be a model for other counties to follow."

The California Department of Social Services (CDSS) received funding approval for the five-year grant through the Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families for the California Partnership to Reduce Long-Term Foster Care. Fourteen California Counties were selected as grant recipients with no matching funds requirements. Santa Clara County was approved to receive $2.77M over the five-year grant period, from September 2010 through September 29, 2015.

Over the past decade, California has reduced its foster-care population by approximately 40 percent, thanks to on-going efforts to find permanent families for children and prevent the need for children to enter care.

Between January 2000 and January 2010, Santa Clara County's foster-care population decreased 53 percent, from 2,658 to 1,260. However, although African-American children represent just two percent of Santa Clara County's child population, approximately 13 percent of youth in the County's long-term foster care are African-American. As of April 2010, 621 children have been in foster care in Santa Clara County for 24 months or longer, with 39 percent having been in care for at least 60 months.

"Although this particular State grant targets African-American and Native American Youth in the State, we have a significant opportunity to apply solutions to all youth in our care," said Will Lightbourne, Director of Santa Clara County Social Services Agency. "We shall also integrate our findings and best practices into the local Children of Color Plan activities and expand them to Latino and Asian youth and families."

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