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County Opts into Program that Offers Equal Pay for Relative Caregivers

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By Lookout Staff

March 10, 2015 -- Grandparents raising their grandchildren fulltime in Los Angeles County will soon be eligible to receive additional financial support through a state program that provides funds for certain foster children living with relatives, Santa Monica area county Supervisor Sheila Kuehl announced.

Kuehl’s motion, co-authored by Supervisor Don Knabe and approved by the County Board of Supervisors this past week, instructs the Department of Children and Family Services to opt into the state’s Approved Relative Caregiver (ARC) Program by no later than June 1.

The ARC program makes state funds available to the relative caregivers of foster children who are ineligible to receive federal Aid to Families with Dependent Children-Foster Care assistance.

“These funds provide state foster care benefits to relatives currently only receiving CalWORKs for the foster children in their care because children are not eligible for federal foster care benefits,” according to Step Up, a nonprofit group that advocates for  grandparents and other relatives raising foster children.

The state Legislature approved the ARC program to address the disparity of rates paid to relative caregivers of children ineligible for the federal assistance and those who are eligible, Kuehl’s office said.

According to Step Up, that disparity can amount to $450 a month or more.
“I’m very proud that we have brought our county into the program to level the playing field for relatives taking care of our county’s abused and neglected children,” said Kuehl.

“Opting into this state program will help to ensure that families have the resources they need to keep our children safe.”

According to a 2013 article by the Pew Research Center, 3 million children were living fulltime with a grandparent in 2011. About 22 percent of grandparents raising their grandchildren were living below the poverty level, compared to 10 percent of the overall population of people age 50 and older, the Pew study found.

Counties have until June 30, 2015 to opt-in to the ARC program, but must opt-in by the end of May for certain payments to be eligible retroactive to January 1, 2015, according to the latest regulations from the California Department of Social Services.

The motion by Kuehl and Knabe will opt-in Los Angeles County to the ARC Program by March 15, with full implementation to begin no later than June 1, her office said.

“Participation in the program will commence at the earliest possible time, and no later than June 1, 2015, to ensure retroactivity for eligible program participants,” according to the motion.

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