November 28, 2014

Senate votes to give foster parents in-home assistance for disabled children

The Iowa Senate has voted to give foster parents the same state-paid in-home assistance that biological parents get for temporary care of disabled children. It’s called “respite care” and the state now pays to send trained staff into a home so the parent of a disabled child gets a chance to leave for a couple of hours.

But Senator Steve Kettering, a Republican from Lake View, says under current law, foster parents have to take a disabled child in their care somewhere else to get this kind of state-paid help. “Having children be parceled out to differing locations, perhaps splitting the children up,” Kettering says.

Kettering argues it makes more sense to allow respite care workers to go into a foster home instead. “Foster families can burn out quickly because of the intensity of the needs,” Kettering says. “Respite allows those families the mental and physical break to allow for a much happier family — parents and children.”

Foster parents who take in disabled children currently get 24 days worth of state-paid respite care per year and Kettering says this proposal wouldn’t change that. It would only change where the care may be given. Last year legislators proposed limiting respite care to 48 hours per month as a cost-cutting measure, but after complaints Governor Branstad rejected the idea.

Supporters say the state pays far less to have disabled children live at home rather than in a care facility.