News and Updates

2022/23 Budget Highlights for Children & Youth in Foster Care & Caregivers

August 3, 2022

Summary provided by Jackie Rutheiser, Policy Director, California Alliance of Caregivers

Governor Newsom signed the $308 billion fiscal year (FY) 2022-23 budget on June 30, 2022, with generous supports for children, youth and families impacted by the child welfare system. The state’s finances were buffeted with a massive surplus driven largely by income taxes paid by high-income earners and the stock market gains in 2021-22 (before this recent downturn) in which Californians paid taxes on large Capital Gains profits. Governor Newsom favors using these surpluses for one-time investments that are not ongoing and have limited time periods, because if there is a recession, he does not have to cut those programs in the future.

Highlights of the California State 2022-23 budget affecting children and youth in foster care and their caregivers and families include: (Please note that “GF” stands for General Fund in the following information.)

  • Resource Family Approval (RFA) Applications: $50 million GF in FY 2022-23 and ongoing to assist counties in reducing RFA timelines. The resources will allow counties to hire additional staff to reduce pending and probationary resource family applications and $6.1 million ($4.4 million GF) one-time, available over three years, for county child welfare agencies to address RFA applications that have pending or probationary approval for more than 90 days.
  • Flexible Family Supports for Home-Based Foster Care: $50 million in GF for 2022-23 and an additional $50 million in GF for 2023-24 to counties to increase the use of home-based family care and the provision of services and supports to children in foster care and their foster caregivers. These funds are one time and shall be used for the following in accordance with Department of Social Services guidance for the following:
    1. Respite care.
    2. Costs to facilitate a foster caregiver’s and child’s participation in child and youth enrichment activities that are not covered by the caregiver-specific rate and that would stabilize the placement or enhance the child’s well-being.
    3. Supports to enable or continue a foster child’s relative or non-relative extended family
    member connections, which may include a child’s tribe, tribal community, or tribal cultural
    events in the case of an Indian child.
    4. Concrete costs associated with facilitating a placement with a relative or non-relative
    extended family member, or extended family member as defined in Section 224.1 of the
    Welfare and Institutions Code in the case of an Indian child, who otherwise would be
    unable to take the placement due to current housing arrangement limitations.
  • Family Finding and Engagement: $150 million one-time GF to be spent over the next five years for intensive family finding and engagement services for counties that provide matching funding. There is also $1 million GF allocated to create a “Center for Family Finding and Engagement Excellence” to assist in training, technical assistance and best practices to implement successful Family Finding and Engagement programs.
  • Emergency Child Care Bridge: $35 million in expansion funding including $26 million to provide additional vouchers; $5 million to increase the number of navigators and $4 million for additional trauma-informed training. Additionally, effective September 1, 2022, authorizes the extension of Bridge vouchers beyond 12 months based on a compelling reason, which may include, the inability of the foster child to successfully transition to other subsidized childcare or the loss of the voucher would jeopardize a successful reunification or permanency plan.
  • Short-Term Residential Therapeutic Program (STRTP): $10.4 million one-time GF in FY 2022-23 in order to maintain sufficient capacity of STRTPs – this funding is to support a portion of STRTP providers to transition to a reduced capacity of 16 beds or fewer, or other program models, to avoid being classified as an Institute of Mental Disease (IMD).
  • Tribally Approved Homes: Legal Counsel for ICWA Cases: $8.2 million GF in FY 22-23 and
    ongoing for the Tribally Approved Homes Compensation Program and $2.1 million GF in FY 22-23
    and ongoing to provide legal counsel to tribes in Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) cases.
  • Foster and Kinship Care Education (FKCE): $500,000 to backfill federal funding and maintain the FKCE program at previous funding amounts to provide Resource Family training.
  • Supporting Youth Who Have Been Victims of Sex Trafficking: $25 million GF one-time for CDSS to enter into contracts with qualified organizations to develop and implement innovative
    placement pilot programs including prevention, intervention, and services for youth who have been the victims of sex trafficking or who are at risk of becoming victims of commercial sexual
    exploitation, with budget bill language to require CDSS to perform a service gap analysis for youth
    who have been exploited and specify services to be funded.
    Funds can be spent until June 30, 2026. Program attributes must include (but are not limited to):
    1) Intensive services using trauma informed practices and harm reduction strategies,
    2) Specialized trainings for caregivers, families, and other support people,
    3) Peer and survivor mentors or support group,
    4) Support from a secondary caregiver to provide mentoring and respite when needed, and
    5) The availability of a “soft space” to serve youth who are otherwise missing from care or are not
    yet ready to be served by existing placement structures
  • Foster Youth with Substance Use Disorders Grant Program: $5 million GF one-time in FY 2022-23 for the program to be administered by the Department of Health Care Services.
  • Unaccompanied Minors: $1 million ongoing to provide additional technical assistance and training to counties in meeting the needs for children in foster care and unaccompanied minors to be connected to permanent family.
  • Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA): $20 million for CASA programs, allowing volunteers and nonprofit staff to serve a greater number of foster children. provide funding to expand capacity, recruitment, and training and to stabilize local budgets and staffing and to be used statewide for volunteer recruitment initiatives, shared resources and infrastructure, development of statewide training curriculum, collection of data on program implementation and outcomes to support the report to the Legislature.
  • Foster Youth Tax Credit (FYTC): $20 million ongoing GF to fund a $1,000 tax credit to young adults ages 18 through 25 who were in foster care on or after age 13 and who file a state tax return under the CalEITC (California Earned Income Tax Credit).
    • Expected to support at least 20,000 transition age foster youth who file their California state tax return and who have an income of at least $1 and less than $30,000;
    • Have a Social Security Number or Individual Tax Identification Number (ITIN); and
    • Live in California for more than half of the tax year.
  • Hope, Opportunity, Perseverance, and Empowerment (HOPE) Trust Account Program: $100 million to fund trust fund accounts for minors whose parent or guardian’s cause of death was from coronavirus or long-term complications of coronavirus or current dependent who has been in foster care for at least 12 months.
  • California Youth Empowerment Commission: $1.5 million ongoing to implement a 25-member Commission (young leaders ages 14-25) with a focus on policy development, community
    engagement, and investment in youth programs.
  • CSU and UC Campus Support: $48 million for community colleges, the California State
    universities and the University of California system to expand campus support systems and
    programs for current and foster youth.
  • Dependency Counsel: $30 million GF ongoing to support court appointed counsel for minors,
    non-minor dependents, and parents in dependency proceedings.

    • Anticipating that the $30 million increase will result in an additional $9 million drawdown of
      Federal Title IV-E funding for attorneys
    • The funding would allow every attorney for a parent or child who is a party to a dependency
      court case to carry an open caseload of 141 clients, which is a decrease in the average
      number of caseloads court appointed attorneys now carry
  • Los Angeles County Child Welfare Stabilization: $200 million GF in FY 2022-23 and $100 million GF in FY 2023- 24 (for a combined one-time investment of $300 million over two years).
  • Supplemental Security Income for Foster Youth: Allocates $800,000 in FY 2022-23 and $600,000 in FY 2023-24 and ongoing to facilitate access to federal Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits for foster youth with disabilities, with a focus on transition age foster youth. The accompanying trailer bill languages directs county placing agencies to screen certain non-minor dependents for possible SSI eligibility, submit an application on behalf of any non-minor dependent who is likely to be eligible for SSI, file appeals for denied SSI applications, and provide ongoing information and assistance for youth to select an appropriate payee and maintain medical and financial eligibility. These provisions will go into effect on January 1, 2023, or 30 days after the California Department of Social Services (CDSS) has disseminated implementing materials and guidance to counties, whichever is later.
  • Emergency Caregiver Funding: $1.7 million General Fund (GF) in FY 2022-23 and on-going, to provide emergency payments to caregivers for up to 365 days under certain circumstances.
  • Transitional Housing Program Plus (THP-Plus which is for former foster youth): $25.3 million expansion for the Transitional Housing Program for former foster youth ages 18 through 24, and to extend the maximum eligibility from 24 to 36 months The recently adopted state budget included major changes in the Transitional Housing Program-Plus (THP Plus), California's housing program for former foster youth. As of July 1, 2022 the length of the program has been increased from 24 to 36 months for all youth. Additionally, youth may participate until they turn 25 instead of 24. These policy changes, championed by Assemblymember Phil Ting (D-San Francisco), were made in the state’s Human Services omnibus bill, AB 187 accompanied by a $25.3 million investment in the state budget.
  • Transition Housing Navigation Program: Increased allocation by $8.7 GF million (from $5 million to $13.7 million) extending program eligibility for the Housing Navigation and Maintenance Program.
  • Homeless Housing, Assistance and Prevention (HHAP) and Homekey programs: $1 billion HHAP funding in FY 2023-24 resulting in $200 GF million to be allocated over the next two years to address youth homelessness, and Homekey funding of $150 million with $116 million available for youth projects.
  • Office of Youth Apprenticeships: $65 million over three years to expand career paths for young people disconnected from work and education. A new Office of Youth Apprenticeships will serve young adults ages 16 through 24 who are homeless, in the foster care or juvenile justice systems or who are otherwise facing barriers to employment – $20 million GF in 2022-23, another $20 million GF in 2023-24 and $25 million GF in 2024-25.
  • Foster Youth Independence Pilot Program: $1 million one-time GF, available over two years, for county child welfare agencies to provide case management and support services for former foster youth utilizing federal housing choice vouchers in the Foster Youth Independence Pilot Program.
  • Helpline for Parents and Youth: $4.7 million one-time GF, available over three years, to continue operation of a helpline for parents and youth. The helpline is a statewide triage and support system, established during the COVID-19 Pandemic, that helps deliver services to children, families, and caregivers by phone and online.
  • Master of Social Work (MSW) Workforce Development: $30 million GF in 2022-23 to increase the number of MSW slots for students at public schools of social work.
  • Behavioral Health Professionals Development: $26 million GF to increase the number of licensed behavioral health professionals through grants to existing university or college behavioral health professional training programs, including partnerships with the public sector.
  • Development of the CWS-CARES Automation System (Foster Care System): $108 million one-time funding ($57.6 million GF) to continue design, development, and implementation activities for the Child Welfare Services-California Automated Response and Engagement System (CWS-CARES) project. The project is replacing a legacy system with a modern technology application that aids child welfare stakeholders in assuring the safety and well-being of children at risk of abuse and neglect.
  • Early Start Eligibility: Developmental Delay Threshold and Fetal Alcohol Syndrome: $6.5 million General Fund in 2022-23, increasing to $29.5 million General Fund ongoing in 2024-25, to support adjustments in identifying children with qualifying signs of developmental delays and highlighting Fetal Alcohol Syndrome as a risk factor for intellectual and/or developmental delays.
  • Early Start: Part C to B Transitions—$65.5 million: ($45.1 million General Fund) in 2022-23, increasing to $82.5 million ($55.8 million General Fund) ongoing in 2023-24, to strengthen support for families navigating the transition process for children with intellectual and/or developmental disabilities moving from the Early Start program (Part C of the federal Individuals with Disabilities