Saturday, May 30, 2009

June 10 Meeting

I hope everyone is having a great weekend! We are gearing up for another cluster meeting on June 10 from 7-9pm. You will receive 2 hours of in-service training. We will be talking about fun summer activities for your family. Ideas and helpful hints about how to keep yourself and your kids entertained throughout the summer months. We just ask that you bring your favorite summer dessert and maybe a tradition that you do that is inexpensive and fun! Come prepared to share your thoughts and ideas with the cluster.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Hello! I am so excited about our upcoming first meeting, and not just for the ice cream! I have planned all of activities until October and am waiting anxiously to hear your suggestions for trainings and such.
I am sure you have all heard about the cut backs that DCFS is making to the foster care payments. We are asking everyone to please write their legislators and tell them your feelings on the foster care reimbursement. As most of you know, foster parents in Utah get paid about 40% less than the National Average currently. We need those who support foster care to become one voice and talk about the experiences you have had, what that reimbursement means to you etc...

We need everyone to make a change. Next year, the rate cut will be even larger than this years. Please do what you can to help if you have any questions post them or email me. Thnak you all for the great work you do every day!

Dear Foster/Adoptive/Kinship Parents,

A few weeks ago I had the pleasure of attending a training for Cluster Facilitators for the entire state. It was an awesome experience and I learned so much from all of the trainings. Some of which I would like to share with you. A few very important things were brought to our attention that I think every Foster Parent should be aware of. This might get long, so I apologize but please bear with me. It needs to be heard. The main things I am going to share with you, some of you who follow politics may already know. I, on the other hand who does not follow politics very closely, was not aware of it.

The first topic I would like to address is the budget cuts to Foster Parent Reimbursements Rates being carried out by our legislators. We met with Duane Betourney, The Director of DCFS for the State of Utah. It was a very short meeting for the topics being presented. We could've been there all day talking about this. We, as Foster Parents are the only ones who can legally advocate for these issues, we are the voice. It is not legal for DCFS and UFCF to do anything about it. I am strongly advising each and every one of you to contact your Representatives, which I will list in this email. Please read the bullet points of what the Director of DCFS had to say.

This years Legislative session was extremely difficult this year. A lot less understanding was given by the Legislative Committee this year compared to previous years. It was the worst he's seen it in his 31 years.
42 million dollars was cut from the Department of Human Services. DCFS, did however, fare better than other departments.
DCFS was targeted as being "bloated." (excessive, unnecessary funds)
DCFS heads testified to the committee on our behalf. They strongly cautioned the cuts and warned how it would affect our children.
The cuts for our department will take place over a 2 year period. 10 million dollars will be cut in 2 phases. The first phase to take affect by July 1, 2009 and the second phase by July 1, 2010.
They do not know the exact amounts of rate decreases yet
DCFS did get some stimulus money from the government which only covered an already cut budget
Rate cuts are inevitable
We as Foster Parents should be Angry, Frustrated and Worried over these decreases
Rate cuts will include: Proctor Care, Group Homes & Private Providers also (most of which get reimbursed more than us)
A legal analysis of rate decreases has not been done, to DCFS knowledge
Cuts will also affect all new subsidies for adopted children. Old, already established subsidies will not be affected.
There is a legal case in California where a Foster Parent sued over decreased rates. This is a very recent case. Here is a link to the case
Very important that we remain mature, nice and respectful in our attempts to educate our legislators
Legislators by nature respond to public out cry
DCFS workers and staff have also taken cuts
National averages and market studies show that Utah Foster Parents are due for a 40% INCREASE in reimbursement rates.
You can email Duane Betournay anytime with your questions/comments.
So, what do we do about this? Below are some are some very good ideas from other Cluster Facilitators and Foster parents from around the state.

Contact your legislators! Write them letters. Call them. Fax them a letter. Invite them to your home to meet with you and see an actually family that these cuts will affect.
What will you say to the Reps. once they are there?
How about a cost comparison on how much it actually costs per day to raise a child in your home compared to the reimbursements we receive. I have Copied and Pasted an example letter that has been already been given to Representative Ben Ferry at the bottom of this email. This is only an example. Rep. Ferry is taking this letter to his next meeting. He found it to be quite enlightening when broken down in such a real way. He was looking at the big number of 5 million...10 million bucks being wiped away. Seeing it this way shed a whole new light on it for him. If you like this idea please personalize it to your family.
What will these decreases mean to you? It doesn't have to be some glorified story of heroism....just a simple story of taking care of kids who need us. Make sure to be kind, respectful and mature in your approach.
Do you or anyone you know have newspaper or t.v. connections? Let them know about these changes or let me know and I will contact them.