Eli Haddaway doing his "happy dance."
The number of foster parents is down by 30 percent in California since 1999, according to new reports. And a California Assemblyman has introduced a bill aimed at reversing that trend.
"My first name is Eli and my last name is Haddaway."
Meet 5-year old Eli.
"I sing and I dance and I do my happy dance….you are my sunshine..."
He was a foster child until Dawn Haddaway adopted him. The Sunnyvale woman has 3 adopted sons and one foster child. Over time, she’s taken in 22 foster kids:
“We nurture them, we feed them, we educate them and we even love them, but they don’t belong to us, they belong to the state, and we need the support.”
The average foster care payment is about 500 dollars a month. There’s been no increase for six years. Frank Mecca is with the county welfare directors association, who helped to produce a new report on foster care in the state.
"The average Californian pays more to kennel their dog than our state pays to support the care of foster children.”
Mecca says that’s why foster parents are quitting – and new ones are hard to find. Democratic Assemblyman Jim Beall has authored a bill to give foster parents a five percent increase, and automatic cost of living adjustments in the future. A legislative committee is expected to consider the measure Wednesday.
The Governor’s budget would maintain the current rates for foster parents. A spokesperson with his office says foster youth are a top priority for the Governor – and says with other competing budget priorities, maintaining the status quo is actually a good thing.
As for Dawn Haddaway, she admits five percent wouldn’t make a huge difference, but she would appreciate the signal of support.