This is sad stuff. When you work for over a decade in the child welfare system in Rhode Island as I have, you like to think that our system is better than most, but the painful reality is that it is not. In fact, if the statistics cited in the Child Advocate’s lawsuit against DCYF are correct, we are worse than most. I have worked with kids who have been abused in foster care and in residential programs, and as a practitioner in this field I feel a keen sense of responsibility about this. I hope that the information coming out in this lawsuit will help repair the systems so that Rhode Island can improve its ability to protect and care for children.
[...] The lawsuit cited other problems, saying, â€œDCYF has so few foster homes that it places children in homes without licenses, depriving them of basic protections of foster parent background checks and training.â€? And, the suit says, â€œInstead of appropriately investigating and addressing abuse or neglect in foster placements, DCYF continues to rely on foster care settings known to pose a risk of harm to children.â€?
Guillette [executive director of the Rhode Island Foster Parents Association] said the state could help retain and recruit foster parents by increasing payments for the room and board of foster children. She said Rhode Islandâ€™s â€œfoster care board ratesâ€? are $14.39 per day for children from birth through age 3; $13.64 per day for age 4 to 11; and $15.79 per day for age 12 and above. By comparison, the rates in Massachusetts are $17.10, $17.96 and $18.59, and the rates in Connecticut are $24.85, $25.22 and $27.42, she said. [full text]
I know some at Anchorrising.com and the head of the Rhode Island Republican party, Giovanni Cicione, complain of the strong poverty advocacy lobby in the state, but when I read statistics like those above, it seems to me that our poverty advocacy lobby is not strong enough. Why are we paying a much lower rate than Connecticut and Massachusetts?
Each year, a bill is introduced to raise the rates in Rhode Island, and each year the bill dies in committee, Guillette said.
So our General Assembly is not willing to give any increase to foster families, but some salaries at DCYF have gone up by 29% in the past six years? This is not right. Support needs to get to the front lines to help kids — the money to take care of the child, the money to train the foster family, the money for staff to supervise and support the family. Please, Rhode Island. With our resources, we should be able to protect kids better than Alabama and Mississippi.