February 28, 2023

Assemblyman Joaquin Arambula
Budget Subcommittee No. 1 on Health and Human Services
1021 O Street Suite 8130
Sacramento, CA 95814

Dear Chairman Arambula:

I respectfully request Budget Subcommittee No. 1 of Health and Human Services hear the following proposal requesting $4,314,937 be allocated from the general fund to the Department of Social Services.

This funding would be used to increase the infant supplement paid to cover the costs of parenting youth in the foster care system, including those in Short Term Residential Therapeutic Programs (STRTP) to $1,896.24 per month. The infant supplement is a supplemental foster care benefit for young parents in foster care for the care and supervision of their child while in placement at an STRTP. The benefit was initially established in federal law in 1985 and followed by the State of California in 1986. The rate was originally set at $326 per month, and was later increased to $411 where it remained for approximately 20 years. In 2008 it was increased by 5% and was not adjusted until 2016 when it was raised to $1,379.00. It has remained at this rate since.

This supplement is expected to pay for all of the baby’s needs while their mother is living in the STRTP. This includes childcare while the teen mom attends high school or work, diapers, clothing, formula, food, parenting classes, supervision, and transportation to all medical visits for the baby. The current rate is woefully inadequate and does not begin to cover these expenses -especially given rising costs due to inflation. For example, in July of 2021, Bloomberg reported that the cost of Pampers experienced a 90% increase in cost per diaper. Formula prices additionally increased by an average of 11 percent between March 2021 and May 2022.

An increase in this funding will be key to supporting a diverse group of parenting teens in the foster care system. Sadly, 100% of the residents located at an STRTP in Santa Ana are girls from low-income and underserved communities of color, with 66% Latino and 33% African American. More than 80% have experienced sex trafficking and all have survived sexual and domestic violence. The average age of a teen mom giving birth at this STRTP is 15.5 years of age.

The State needs to prioritize the complex care and needs of these young mothers in the foster care system, and this funding is an important step to doing that. Thank you for your time and attention to this important issue.  Please feel free to contact me or my Chief of Staff, Hannah Skaggs, at (916) 319-2072 if you have any questions on this request.