It’s been a rocky road, but for the first time since 2010, more children are leaving Arizona’s foster care services than entering it, according to KTAR News.
KTAR reports that the highest number of children in Arizona’s foster care system was around 19,000 and has since dropped to 17,400, an 8.4 percent decrease. As of October 2016, DCS reports fewer than 5,000 licensed foster care families, 6.8% more than the previous year. This coincides with Governor Doug Ducey’s plan to support relatives taking on guardian roles as opposed to the child entering into the foster care system. Gov. Ducey floated this plan, the ‘Grandmother stipend,’ in his January State of the State address:
Our foster families are the unsung heroes in this tragedy. Making real sacrifices, to provide love to a child who needs it. To them, we can never say it enough: Thank you.
We’ll always be looking for ways to support them. One way we can help is by recognizing those who take in children in their own extended family. Aunts, uncles. Grandfathers and grandmothers, who raise these children as their own. This is often a better option for a child than going to an unfamiliar family. But unlike other foster families, these family members receive little assistance for taking in their nephew or grandchild. So let’s change that, with a “Grandmother Stipend” – providing these families with resources to raise these children.
Allowing children to stay in a familiar environment, with people they know, causes less disruption and reduces the impact of such disruptions on academics and social behavior. His senior policy adviser, Christina Corieri, told KTAR, “We want to focus on most needy kinship families and make sure that they have the money that they need with a little assistance from the state to be able to care of those children.”