The Arkansas’ Department of Human Services is changing the way they pay foster parents for their services.
Many families across Arkansas have opened their doors to children in foster care, and for their generous actions, the state sends them checks every month to reimburse them for their care.
But, recently, the Department of Human Services changed their scheduling in payments, which will leave current foster parents without a check until august.
“Some kids come into foster care with just the clothes on their back.” said Nathan Nailling, a foster parent in Arkansas.
For those who have ever housed a foster child, they know the financial demands it requires, which is why the state of Arkansas provides checks to foster parents to help feed and clothe the children they are hosting.
“Folks can use this to buy school supplies, to buy clothing for kids that come in to their home for the first time” Nailling said.
Typically checks are sent to foster parents at the beginning of each month, providing them money in advance of their care.
However, a new scheduling would change that to be much like a time card at an office. Foster families will have to log the hours they work before receiving their checks.
“This is really just a way to be more accurate, and to be more financially responsible, with state and federal dollars.” Said Kate Luck, Public Information Coordinator with the Department of Human Services.
Luck sayd this change will help save taxpayers money.
“Things happen during a month. Someone who may be a foster parent at the beginning of the month may not be at the end of the month,” Luck said. “This way, we are issuing the payment after the month is over, so that any changes that occurred over the month, we can take account of and reflect that in the payment.”
The change will leave foster families without pay through July, and into the first week of August, which means the families will have to pay for services out of pocket until they receive their reimbursement.
That has some in the foster community concerned.
“I think the big thing is the state didn’t notify them,” Nailling said. “If they would have had two or three months’ notice, that would have helped. But here, getting a last minute notice, it could affect some families and kids, which really hurts.”
Some of the foster families that 5news spoke to say that they don’t mind the change, just that the families didn’t have time to properly save for this gap in payments.
“Most families I know, it won’t put a bind in them,” Nailling said. “But, it’s more of an inconvenience.”
But, the Department of Human Services says this was a necessary step.
“Yes, there is a gap, and we apologize for that, and we appreciate everybody’s patience,” Luck said. “But, we think that this payment schedule will be more accurate and better serve the community. We’re making sure that we’re not using state money, or federal money, for services that haven’t been provided.”
According to officials, in June alone, the Arkansas’ Department of Human Services paid more than $3.6 million in board payments for foster families alone.