Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and legislators put a combined $94 million extra for foster care into the coming year’s budget. The danger is that the governor might try to declare “mission accomplished” and cite that increase as sufficient evidence of his commitment to foster care.
But the infusion of new money — welcome as it is — does not preclude the need to reform the system. If anything, it intensifies the need to make sure those dollars are spent as efficiently and effectively as possible.
The stakes are exceedingly high. Recent history suggests California’s more than 80,000 foster children are at far higher risk of becoming homeless or incarcerated than advancing to college. … Foster children are our collective responsibility. The outcomes of this failed system — with unacceptable numbers of youths entering adulthood without the skills or support systems they need — leave no doubt about the urgency for reform.
These four bills need to be signed into law.
Several dozen editorials — by editorial page editor John Diaz and editorial writers Caille Millner and Pati Poblete — laid out basic problems with California’s foster-care system: “The most fundamental of which,” they said, “was the inconsistency of inattention and services available to young people from county to county. … We were determined to stay with this issue until California did a better job of caring for the 80,000 children. We made that pledge in the paper, and repeated it several times.”
Editor Phil Bronstein said the editorials “forced the issue and broke news along the way.”
In 2006, Schwarzenegger signed a package of foster-care reform bills. Bronstein said, “In an acknowledgement of the role of The Chronicle’s editorial campaign, the governor’s office gave the exclusive story to our editorial board, which we broke on our editorial page the day of the big signing announcement.”