Illinois House Approves Berrios Bill to Boost Foster Parent Reimbursement by One-Time $24 Million Grant; Schoenberg Senate Sponsor

(Springfield, IL) – The Illinois House on Tuesday endorsed a one-time $24 million grant to reimburse foster parents for increased expenses related to caring for the state’s abused and neglected children.

State Rep. Maria "Toni" Berrios

State Rep. Maria "Toni" Berrios

The Illinois House voted 76-40 to include the money in the state’s new Fiscal Year 2010 budget.

“Foster parents have had only two increases in eight years to pay expenses to feed, clothe, house, and transport foster children and inflation has deeply eroded the value of the state reimbursement,” said Marge Berglind, the President and CEO of the Child Care Association of Illinois, the bill’s chief supporter.

Berglind noted, on average, an Illinois foster parent spends $703 per month—of that $281 comes out of the foster parent’s pocket.

A national report on foster parent under-funding released two years  ago by two national organizations and the University of Maryland said Illinois’

Deputy Majority Leader Lou Lang

Deputy Majority Leader Lou Lang

average rates (for children 2, 9, and 16) were $380, $422, and $458 per month and they needed to be raised to $661, $757, and $830 to meet actual costs.

The legislation, House Bill 83, sponsored by State Rep. Maria “Toni” Berrios (D-Chicago), provides a one-time payment this year of $24 million to the state’s 7,500 foster parents. The payments would average $145 per foster child.

“It’s an embarrassment that DCFS seeks volunteer foster parents to care for abused and neglected children and then refuses to pay the full cost of care,” said co-sp0nsor Deputy House Majority Leader Lou Lang (D-Skokie). “This one-time $24 million grant attempts to address DCFS’ negligence.”

“We applaud Representative Berrios for her leadership and willingness to address the state’s under-funding of foster care,” said Berglind.

State Representatives Sara Feigenholtz (D-Chicago), Deb Mell (D-Chicago), Cynthia Soto (D-Chicago), Luis Arroyo (D-Chicago) and Eddie Washington (D-Waukegan) are the bill’s other sponsors.

The measure now moves to the Illinois Senate under the sponsorship of State Senator Jeff Schoenberg (D-Evanston).

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