The Child Welfare Act says that the state and federal governments must share the cost of foster care with the Foster Family Agencies (FFAs), which oversees the state's 16,000 dependent children and wards of the state.
And like almost every other state agency, FFAs have been hit hard financially, and having no increase in funding over the last decade has made matters worse.
"The state is the deadbeat parent of the year," said Jay Berlin, executive director and founder of Alternative Family Services, an FFA.
The funding rate provided to FFAs is based on the cost of living, which has increased 80 percent in the last 21 years, according to the Alliance. But FFA funding rates have only increased 10 percent in that time. California's Department of Finance estimates a 70 percent increase in the next state budget to restore FFA rates to their original levels.
If a court approves this much-needed funding increase to offset the state's increasing cost of living, the agency would use that money to pay staff or to increase the foster parents' monthly rate, which is currently estimated at $900 a month, Berlin said.
"We do not comment on pending litigation," Michael Weston said in a statement on behalf of the department. "However, the California Department of Social Services remains committed to its mission which is to serve, aid and protect needy and vulnerable children and adults in ways that strengthen and preserve families, encourage personal responsibility and foster independence."