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Report sheds light on rampant misuse of federal benefits in CA foster system

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A new report blasts California for continuing to take federal benefits away from foster children, to help balance the state budget.

The nationwide study gives California and 43 other states a grade of F, for diverting funds to foster care agencies, without ever even telling kids that the money is rightfully theirs.

This has been a practice for many years, but in recent years there’s been a movement to ban it, which Arizona has done, and there’s federal legislation in the works. California applies for Social Security disability and survivor benefits in the names of foster children, then collects the money and uses it to fund state agencies that provide foster care. But that money is supposed to go to the kids themselves.

A bill to end this practice passed unanimously in the state legislature last year, but Governor Newsom vetoed it, saying it would blow a hole in the state budget, and that if lawmakers want to pass a bill that affects the budget, it has to be part of the budget-writing process.

For more, KCBS Political Reporter Doug Sovern, along with KCBS Radio's news anchors Brett Berkhart and Patti Reising, spoke with Jessica Heldman, the Fellmeth-Peterson Associate Professor in Child Rights, at the Children’s Advocacy Institute at the University of San Diego School of Law, the organization that has produced this new study, which is called “Foster Care, or Foster Con?” 

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