Check Foster Care Program Mistakes

Federal funding is available to help states arrange foster care for children taken from homes because of abuse or neglect, providing the families meet certain income requirements. During the past 10 years the state has had to repay $1.1 million to the federal government because of errors in how Charleston handled the program.

State officials offered the explanation that the federal rules are “onerous and complex.”

Perhaps so, but a federal review of how the state handled the program during a six-month period raises questions. Federal officials found that of 80 foster care cases they reviewed, 12 included errors by the state. Eighteen others were not eligible for federal funding help.

But in 17 of those 80 situations, the state could have been given federal funds – but did not seek the money, according to the federal review.

Red tape involved in many federal programs goes far beyond onerous and complex. Sometimes it seems as if the whole idea is to keep local and state governments from receiving federal assistance while, of course, assuring taxpayers that Washington is always there to help.

Still, failure to seek funding in nearly as many foster care situations as those in which money was requested improperly seems to indicate problems at the state level. They should be resolved with the goal of providing as much help as possible to children who need foster homes.