by Eliza Schafler
Eliza Schafler is an MHAS Equal Justice Works Fellow sponsored by Greenberg Traurig, LLP.

I’ve been meaning to make a happy correction to a previous blog post. In April of this year, in a post entitled, “When Relatives Step Up with No Reward,” I wrote to express frustration with a California law that privileged non-relative foster parents over most relative caregivers in the provision of foster care benefits. As a result of that law, relative caregivers received approximately $500 less per month than non-relatives to care for foster children, even though they were struggling with the same needs. The ultimate sufferers were children, who were punished for staying with family members despite the psychological benefits of doing so.

Beginning in January 2015, under the new 2014-15 California State Budget, this inequity will be corrected for counties choosing to participate, including Los Angeles County. The loophole will be closed, allowing relative caregivers and non-relative foster parents to finally receive the same amount of foster care benefits – a source of income they can all use to meet the basic needs of the vulnerable foster children in their care. Now, there will be no incentive against relative caregivers, who often offer a more loving home for children who have already endured trauma and removal from their parents.