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Administration Releases May Budget Revision

May 15, 2012

By Amy Lemley

Yesterday, the Brown Administration released the May revision of its proposed budget for Fiscal Year 2012-13. This much-anticipated document outlines how the Administration proposes to address the State’s $15.7 billion budget deficit, up from an estimated $9.2 billion in January due to lower-than-expected revenue, increasing financial obligations to public education and the blocking of earlier budget proposals by the federal government and courts.  According to the Administration, this budget shortfall will be addressed through a combination of additional cuts, new revenue from the Governor’s November ballot proposition and “other solutions” which include short-term borrowing among other strategies.

The main developments for Foster Care and Child Welfare Services in the May Revision include:

 Additional funds for AB 12 implementation: Concerns have been raised by both counties and advocates that the level of funding allocated to Child Welfare Services in inadequate to implement the programs, particularly given the recent implementation of AB 12 which expands access to foster care for older youth. Prior to the May Revision, the Administration committed to increasing funding for Child Welfare Services by $200 million by prioritizing growth funds in future years. The May Revision further addresses this issue, increasing the allocation for Foster care and Child Welfare Services by $53.9 million over a three-year period:  2012-13 ($18.2 M), 13-14 ($20.4) and 14-15 ($15.3 M).

Increased allocation for EPSDT: Another area of concern among children’s advocates and mental health providers was inadequate base level funding for EPSDT, the Early and Periodic Screening Diagnosis and Treatment program. While not technically a child welfare program, EPSDT provides critically needed mental health services to children that prevent placement in foster care and assist in addressing ongoing mental health needs.  The May Revise appears to partially address this issue, increasing the allocation for EPSDT and Mental Health Managed care has increased by $48.1 million, from $732.8 million to $780.9 million.

 Increased base level for Child Welfare Services and Foster Care: The base for Child Welfare Services, Foster Care and Adult Protective Services is established in 2011-12. Based on the Administration’s estimate, the allocation to these programs has increased by $5.5 million, from $1,616.7 million to $1,622.2 million.

THP-Plus Foster Care:  The issue of whether or not counties may use funding allocated for THP-Plus and THP-Plus Foster Care for other purposes was not addressed in the May Revision. This language was originally included in the programmatic trailer bill released by the Administration on April 27, 2011. According to CDSS, how this issue is resolved hinges largely on Assembly Bill 1712. AB 1712 proposes to have CDSS license THP-Plus Foster Care providers rather than have then approved by county child welfare agencies, as originally proposed by AB 12. Counties could then elect to place non-minor dependents in THP-Plus in the same manner that they place non-minor dependents in a group home or foster family agency.

Foster Youth Services: The Administration has removed Foster Youth Services from the Weighted Student Formula proposal, which will preserve county-based Foster Youth Services programs. For more information about the initial proposal, follow this LINK.

Intensive Treatment Foster Care Rates – The May Revision includes a new proposal to implement an interim increase to the ITFC rates, based on the recommendations from a workgroup comprised of counties, providers and the state, effective July 1, 2012. The per-child rates will increase, from the current range of $2,687 to $4,028, to a range of $4,034 to $5,581 per child.  The rate will enable counties to divert additional foster youth from group home placements, resulting in anticipated savings of $1.8 million GF ($5.9 million total funds).

Other Related Issues: For more information about related policy areas, such as child care and CalWORKs, read an excellent summary by the County Welfare Director’s Association of California by following this LINK.

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