In 2019, a judge ruled against foster youth in a case where the Office of Children’s Services had been applying for benefits children were entitled to and putting that money into the OCS budget.
Lawyers for the 13 child plaintiffs claim the state has known about widespread foster care problems for years but hasn’t addressed them.
The number of children in Alaska’s foster care system has been pretty stable during the pandemic, but the number of foster homes has declined dramatically.
At least 10 state foster care agencies hire for-profit companies to obtain millions of dollars in Social Security benefits intended for the most vulnerable children in state care each year, according to a review of hundreds of pages of contract documents.
Out-going state Ombudsman Linda Lord-Jenkins said the cases show that in the foster care system, failing to complete administrative tasks can have long-term impacts.
“Sometimes I would love to wear a shirt that says, ‘My child has FASD. Don’t judge us,'” says mother Diane Lohrey.
Members of the Alaska Youth Policy Summit shared traumatic stories of drug abuse, foster care and mental illness with state legislators on Tuesday.