Bill seeks stipend increase for foster families

Bill seeks stipend increase for foster families

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - How much money should foster parents receive for childcare? That question is the topic of legislation, and a lawsuit.

House Bill 1576 HD1 will be heard by the finance committee Friday.  The bill aims to increase the monthly stipend a foster family receives by $50-$150 per month.

Currently, the figure is $529 per month.  That's the same amount families received in 1990.  The figure hasn't been raised since.

That's the reason why the bill was introduced.  It's also the reason why the state is facing a class action lawsuit.

"If you applied inflation to that $529, they should be paid over $950 a month now to care for those children" said Gavin Thornton, Deputy Director of the Appleseed Center for Law and Economic Justice.

The non-profit advocacy group filed a class action lawsuit in December on behalf of all foster families in Hawaii, claiming the stipend amount simply isn't enough.

"It's the lowest in the nation when you adjust for cost of living.   It's pretty close to the bottom even if you don't adjust for cost of living".

Attorneys for the Department of Human Services, which came up with the increase proposal, have filed a stay, claiming the lawsuit should not go forward while the issue is being taken up in the legislature. The Appleseed Center plans on vigorously challenging the stay when it is heard on March third.