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Don’t punish the children for Sacramento’s budget

Posted: July 29, 2008 1:23 a.m.
Updated: September 29, 2008 5:01 a.m.
I am writing in response to The Signal’s July 11 story “County Frets Over Foster Freeze.” California’s foster children did not create our state’s budget crisis and should not carry the burden of the failings of their elders. Balancing the budget on the backs of abused and neglected children flies in the face of our commitment to provide quality care for our state’s most vulnerable citizens.

A cuts-only budget is not the answer. If we take that path, our foster children will suffer from less frequent visits by social workers, less access to our already overburdened court system, a poorer quality of education and fewer doctors and mental health professionals available to provide desperately needed medical care.

The Governor’s proposal will translate to 1,000 fewer social workers and 16,000 uninvestigated claims of abuse or neglect. This is a scenario we should be unwilling even to consider.

The proposed cut in foster care reimbursement rates will force some families to stop providing foster care. Other foster families will be forced to make choices that no family should have to make for their children, like the choice between whether to buy milk for the table or gas to get the children to school.

Foster children are already in crisis and cannot wait another year, let alone two years or three years, for us to fix our budget problems. For too many of these children, another year or even another month will be too late.

Senator Runner, as our legislator and the voice in Sacramento for the many foster children within our district, we call upon you to make good on our state’s promise to care for and protect these children today.
We are counting on you and your fellow legislators and Governor Schwarzenegger to pass a state budget that prioritizes the foster children we have vowed to protect.


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