January 23, 2013 - Some recent news reports about the Governor's education funding formulas in his proposed budget have heralded the fact that for the first time ever school districts would receive funding based on the number of students in foster care in their districts. On the face of it, that sounds like good news. However, the proposed budget raises two immediate concerns. First, it proposes for the second time to eliminate categorical funding for Foster Youth Services, a program of the California Department of Education that provides educational support for foster youth. This proposal was successfully turned around by a coalition of advocates last year. (FYA member ACOE FYS is a stellar example of this important state funded program.) In line with his "local control funding formula," the Governor proposes distributing the funding on a per-pupil basis to individual districts without requiring that they provide those services now provided by FYS.
An additional concern arises from the fact that while districts would receive 35% more dollars for educating students in three categories: low income, English language learners, and foster children, they would not receive more money for a student who falls into more than one category, which means that districts would not actually get more money for serving foster children since all foster children are "low income," and many are "English language learners." In an article in Ed Source (Frey, 1/21/13), Jesse Hahnel of the National Center for Youth Law anticipates that "no one from the state will even ask counties how their foster kids are doing," and if that is the case, Hahnel is "skeptical that county offices will continue funding programs for foster children." To participate in an effort to return categorical funding for FYS, contact Jesse Hahnel of the National Youth Law Center or Susanna Kniffen of Children Now.
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