• 48°

By Kathy Chaffin
Salisbury Post
Foster parents in Rowan County may be getting more financial assistance.
The Rowan County Board of Social Services, after discussing the matter at its last two meetings, voted unanimously last week to recommend increasing supplements to foster parents.
If approved by the Rowan County Board of Commissioners, the increases would go into effect at the beginning of the 2008-2009 fiscal year on July 1.
Jim Sides, who represents the commissioners on the board, said he supports the increase.
“If there’s anybody in the program that needs help, it’s these people,” he said. “I think we underestimate how they benefit the county.”
Tom Brewer, program administrator for children’s services, presented the proposed increases to the board.
Increases in the current monthly board payments reflect the new state minimums being considered in the state legislature. Pending approval, rates by age groups would increase as follows: children 0-5, $390 to $475; children 6-12, $440 to $581; and children 13 and up, $490 to $634.
Social Services Director Sandra Wilkes said state officials are fairly certain the increases will be approved.
Brewer proposed raising clothing allowances to foster parents from $150 three times a year for children 0-11 to $200 and $200 three times a year for children 12 and up to $300.
The initial $100 clothing allowance given as needed would also be increased to $200.
Board member John Blair said the increased allowances won’t go that far in covering the clothing needs of children.
Dr. Nilous Avery, board chairman, agreed, citing the cost of tennis shoes as an example.
Brewer also proposed increasing the $35 annual gift card given to foster parents in May in observance of Foster Parent Appreciation Month. Under the proposed increases, each set of foster parents would be given $50 gift cards twice annually, once in May and once in November.
With the proposed increases, Brewer said the line item for foster parent supplements in the 2008-2009 budget would go from $99,075 to $113,400. At least 50 percent of that amount would be reimbursed by the state.
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Contact Kathy Chaffin at 704-797-4249 or kchaffin@salisburypost.com.

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