Arizona’s 2023 budget makes key investments across the child welfare continuum that together are a significant step forward in ensuring children and families at risk of, in, or transitioning from foster care have the supports they need.
A $10M allocation for Healthy Families Arizona Home Visiting Program (HFAz) expands critical resources to expectant and new parents to get their children off to a healthy start. Primary prevention programs like HFAz strengthen families and reduce their risk of becoming involved with the child welfare system.
Kinship Foster Care
$19.8M for kinship foster is a game changer the over half of Arizona’s foster children who are placed with a relative. While these children benefit from the best practice of kinship foster care, they have never been adequately supported by the state. Nearly $20M will go to increase the monthly stipend provided to children placed with kin from $75 to $300 a month. Though still less than half of what foster children placed with non-relatives get, coupled with other already underway policy and practice changes that promise to clear hurdles to licensure for kinship caregivers, the funding puts children in relative foster care on a path to parity.
Transition from Care
A $2.6M increase to the Independent Living Subsidy sets youth transitioning from foster care up for success. It raises the monthly subsidy for youth in extended foster care from $715 a month, a rate last adjusted in 2009, to $1,200 to better reflect the skyrocketing cost of living and provide meaningful financial support to young people striving to become successful, independent adults.
While the state still has a long way to go, these investments are important steps toward transforming to our child welfare system into a child wellbeing system—one in which families can access the resources they need so they are not at risk of child protection system involvement, one in which all children and families who do need foster care have the supports to heal, and one in which youth aging out of foster care can thrive as independent adults.