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LA county proposes childcare vouchers to help struggling foster parents

Maya Sugarman/KPCC

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A new report from the Chronicle for Social Change finds the cost of childcare as a primary hardship for working foster parents. 

In response, LA County Supervisor Sheila Kuehl is proposing $31 million of child welfare funds to aid in the care of infants and toddlers. She said child care is one of the top barriers to placing children in this age group.

Kuehl said the vouchers will also help in recruiting new parents into the state's overburdened foster care system.

"Over the past decade, we lost almost half of the number of applicants we used to have," Kuehl told Take Two's Alex Cohen. 

Kuehl said funds will come from Assembly Bill 403, known as California’s Child Welfare Continuum of Care Reform, which will keep counties from relying on group homes, and instead, place children in relative care or foster care homes.

The burden on foster parents include long waiting lists for spots in government subsidized daycare centers or early childhood education programs. And sometimes, fosters are left scrambling during an emergency when a child is placed in a foster home late at night.

"The truth is, Alex, almost all of our families have two parents working," said Kuehl, crediting the recession for the trend.

The money will go to six-month emergency childcare vouchers for foster parents to purchase childcare from both licensed and license-exempt providers. Navigators would help foster parents negotiate government subsidized childcare systems, along with training on childhood trauma.

The plan heads to the California Assembly and Senate for budget subcommittee hearings in April.


To hear the full interview, click the blue play button above.