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Illinois foster families set to see a boost in monthly financial support

"D.Y.," a teenager who is currently living in a foster-care group home, takes part in an AP interview, Friday, May 21, 2021.
Ted S. Warren/AP
"D.Y.," a teenager who is currently living in a foster-care group home, takes part in an AP interview, Friday, May 21, 2021.

Illinois foster families will see a big bump in monthly support payments from state.

The state's current fiscal year began July 1. The year's budget includes a 14% cost of living adjustment for foster parents and caregivers working through the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS).

Stephanie AlKhafaji, the interim CEO of the Children's Home Association of Illinois, says that's a significant step up from the 3% previously anticipated.

"14% is a very significant increase in funding. It will make a huge impact on the lives of these youth in care. It will make a huge impact on the families who choose to become foster families," she said. "It will help offset the cost of living, provide necessary supplies and just help support for the increased costs that comes with with bringing a child into your home."

That enhanced reimbursement may make fostering more appealing for more families. The state currently has more than 18,000 children in care awaiting a foster family placement.

"Right now, at this very moment. 1,500 of those are in the Tri County area alone. And actually, Peoria County is the third highest ranking county in our state in terms of youth in care," AlKhafaji said. "So the need in our immediate backyard is tremendous."

AlKhafaji said the optimal outcome of a fostering situation is the child's eventual reunification with the biological family, if possible.

"When it comes to the foster families, what we're hoping is that they feel supported by Children's Home to kind of walk this journey. It can be difficult, but very meaningful, very, very rewarding," she said. "And we want to make sure that we support these families every step of the way, so that they don't feel like they're on this journey alone."

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Tim is the News Director at WCBU Peoria Public Radio.