Children in foster care are some of the most vulnerable members of our communities. Early investment to ensure that they receive adequate care and treatment can help to avoid a lifetime of problems that carry severe human costs for the foster children as they grow, and great financial costs for our state. Yet Hawaii was effectively decreasing its investment in foster children in the state by violating federal law and failing to increase the amount paid for their care to counter the eroding effect of inflation year after year for nearly a quarter century.
Year after year the state rejected the requests of foster families and foster care support organizations to adjust the foster care payments for the current cost of living. If inflation adjustments had been made, the monthly payments to foster families would have nearly doubled.
The Case: Ah Chong v. McManaman
Finally, in 2013, LEJ and its partners– and Alston Hunt Floyd & Ing–filed suit seeking in increase in the payments. After years of intensive litigation, we negotiated a settlement under which the amount paid for the care of over 6,000 children involved with with the foster care system will be increased. Overall, under the settlement foster families in the state will receive over $8 million annually in additional resources for the care of foster children. During the 2017 legislative session, the payments for the settlement were approved and the rates were set to increase in July 2018.