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October 21, 2022

The 2022-23 California Spending Plan

Human Services

Child Welfare

California’s child welfare services system serves to strengthen families and protect the state’s children from abuse and neglect, often by providing temporary foster care placements for children who cannot safely remain in their home and services to safely reunify children with their families.

Budgeted Child Welfare Spending Decreases by $180 Million General Fund in 2022-23. Total child welfare spending for 2022-23 is budgeted at around $1.3 billion General Fund ($9.6 billion total funds), including the Approved Relative Caregiver program, Kinship Guardianship Assistance Payment program, Adoption Assistance Program, foster care payments, continued implementation of Continuum of Care Reform (CCR), extended foster care programs for non-minor dependents and programs for former foster youth, and other special programs—all implemented by the Department of Social Services (DSS). This amount represents a net decrease of $180 million in General Fund compared to 2021-22, mostly due to the expiration of significant temporary funding (such as limited-term funds for pandemic assistance for child welfare families, one-time funds for counties to begin Family First Prevention Services Act (FFPSA) implementation, and one-time funds for counties to develop placement options and continuums of care for youth with complex needs) in 2021-22, partially offset by some new augmentations in 2022-23, which we describe in more detail below.

New Augmentations in 2022-23 Include Temporary and Ongoing Costs. The 2022-23 budget includes around $620 million General Fund for new child welfare activities and augmentations. The majority of these funds ($504 million) is for one-time or limited-term purposes, while a smaller amount ($117 million) is ongoing. Figures 1 and 2 summarize these new activities, and we describe some of the largest augmentations in more detail below the figures.

Figure 1

New One‑Time and Limited‑Term Child Welfare Funding

(In Millions)


General Fund

Funds for Los Angeles County child welfare services


Family finding and engagement grants to counties


CWS‑CARES project augmentation


Flexible funds to increase and support home‑based foster care


Services for minors who have been victims of sex trafficking


Transition support for STRTPs determined to be IMDs


California Parent and Youth Helpline


Resource Family Approval backlog funding


Foster care placement services­—state‑level resources for congregate care continuous quality improvement framework


Foster Youth Independence Pilot Program




CWS‑CARES = Child Welfare Services‑California Response and Engagement System; STRTPs = Short‑Term Residential Therapeutic Programs; and IMDs = Institutions for Mental Disease.

Figure 2

New Ongoing Child Welfare Funding

(In Millions)


General Fund

Resource Family Approval augmentation for counties


Emergency Child Care Bridge—program expansion and access to administrative funds


Support for recruitment and approval of tribally approved homes


Implementing legislation (SB 354, AB 546, AB 647, AB 670, AB 829)


Placement Prior to Approval—incremental cost increase to maintain state funding for emergency placements up to 120 days


Legal counsel for tribes in child welfare cases


FFPSA—funds for placements in non‑accredited new STRTPs


Supplemental Security Income access for older foster youth


Family finding support and engagement—state‑level resources for training and technical assistance


Child and family services acute review and response—state‑level resources to review and respond to trends in overstays at shelter and STRTPs




FFPSA = Family First Prevention Services Act and STRTPs = Short‑Term Residential Therapeutic Programs.

  • Funds for Los Angeles County Child Welfare Services. The spending plan includes $200 million in 2022-23 (and an additional $100 million in 2023-24) for Los Angeles County to increase funding for family reunification services, prevention services implementation, and other activities upon the expiration of federal funding certainty grants, which had been provided to counties that participated in Title IV-E waiver demonstration projects. (The federally approved projects allowed participating counties to use their Title IV-E dollars more flexibly. The projects ended in 2019, and from 2019 until 2021, the federal government provided step-down grants to help counties transition.) To demonstrate these funds supplement and do not supplant existing child welfare funding, budget language specifies Los Angeles County shall provide its 2011 Realignment balances to DSS.

  • Family Finding and Engagement Grants to Counties. The spending plan includes $150 million in grant funding to be allocated to participating counties to supplement county family finding, engagement, and support activities to increase stable family placements. Participating counties will be required to provide local matching funds equal to half of the state funding amount received. Budget language specifies DSS will develop the specific allocation methodology and procedures for data collection and reporting. Funding will be allocated to participating counties by March 1, 2023, and will be available for expenditure through June 30, 2027.

  • Flexible Funds to Increase and Support Home-Based Foster Care. The spending plan includes $50 million to support foster youth in home-based placements by funding services and activities on a case-by-case basis to help facilitate and stabilize individual placements. Funds may be used for services and activities such as respite care, enrichment activities, concrete costs necessary to place a child with a relative who otherwise would be unable to take the placement due to current housing arrangement limitations, and other direct supports and services. DSS will develop the specific criteria through which counties and tribes will be able to request and access the funding.

  • Resource Family Approval (RFA) Augmentation for Counties. The budget includes $50 million to provide an ongoing augmentation for counties to implement resource family approval. The target time frame for counties to complete their review and approval of a resource family’s application is 90 days; however, average processing time continuously has exceeded this target. The additional funds will allow counties to hire more social workers and make other changes to improve RFA processing times.

Budget Language Includes Other Policy Changes. In addition to providing the augmentations and funding the new activities summarized above, the 2022-23 budget package also includes language enacting some specific child welfare policy changes.

  • Maintains State Funding for Emergency Placements Beyond 90 Days. In addition to the funding amount described in Figure 2, the budget package includes legislation making a permanent change to the maximum funding duration for placement prior to approval. Specifically, budget language amends statute to allow state assistance to be provided to emergency caregivers prior to their completion of the RFA process, for up to 120 days (or 365 days in cases where a good cause extension is warranted) on an ongoing basis. Without this statutory change, the maximum duration for state funding would have decreased to 90 days beginning July 1, 2022.

  • Adds Community Treatment Facilities as Federally Eligible Placement Option Under FFPSA. The budget package includes technical clean up language to update statutory provisions related to implementation of FFPSA, primarily pertaining to community treatment facilities—which are DSS-licensed group home facilities providing 24-hour nonmedical care and mental health treatment services to children in a secure environment.

  • Extends Foster Care Interim Rates. Budget language extends the date through which initial interim foster care rates—developed as part of CCR implementation—shall remain operative. These rates are now in effect through December 31, 2024, with ongoing rates expected to be established by January 1, 2025.

  • Increases County Responsibilities Around Assisting Older Foster Youth to Access Supplemental Security Income (SSI). In addition to the funding amount described in Figure 2, the budget package includes language describing additional steps that county child welfare agencies must take around assisting older foster youth and non-minor dependents to access SSI benefits, and directs DSS to develop guidance to this effect. The language will take effect January 1, 2023, or 30 days after DSS issues the guidance, whichever is later.

  • Allows Counties to Extend Emergency Child Care Bridge Vouchers. The Emergency Child Care Bridge program aims to stabilize foster placements by providing time-limited vouchers for childcare and by providing childcare navigators to assist resource families in accessing long-term subsidized childcare. Currently, vouchers may be provided for up to 12 months. Budget language directs DSS to develop guidance specifying that effective September 1, 2022, counties may extend vouchers beyond 12 months based on a compelling reason. Budget language also adjusts the eligibility criteria for vouchers.

Some Augmentations Outside of DSS Also Directly Benefit Foster Youth. Beyond DSS, the 2022-23 spending plan takes a number of actions across other budget areas that will directly serve foster youth, as described below. This list does not capture all elements of the budget that may benefit foster youth and child welfare-involved families (for example, the Better for Families rebates certainly will benefit some families involved with the child welfare system, but these funds are not targeting foster youth or their families in any way). Rather, we highlight augmentations that offer direct support for foster youth.

  • Expands Higher Education Support Programs for Foster Youth. $10 million ongoing Proposition 98 funds to expand NextUp at California Community Colleges, and $18 million General Fund ongoing to support similar programs at the University of California (UC) and California State University (CSU) systems. NextUp’s 2021-22 funding level was $20 million ongoing, and the program currently is provided at 20 community college districts. The program provides a broad range of services to current and former foster youth, including outreach and recruitment, academic counseling, tutoring, book and supply grants, and referrals to health and mental health services. The augmentation will allow the expansion of the program to additional community college districts. The proposed $18 million for CSU and UC would provide similar support for foster youth programs across CSU and UC campuses.

  • Creates Foster Youth Tax Credit. Creates refundable $1,000 tax credit for young adults aged 18 through 25 who were foster youth at age 13 or older and are otherwise eligible for the California Earned Income Tax Credit. The tax credit will be administered by the Franchise Tax Board, with data sharing from DSS. The administration estimates around 20,000 youth will claim the credit each year.

  • Expands Transitional Housing Program and Housing Navigators. $34 million ongoing to expand foster youth housing programs under the Department of Housing and Community Development. Budget language renames the housing navigator program as the Housing Navigation and Maintenance Program, and extends eligibility and priority for the program to help young adults who are 18 to 25, with priority given to young adults formerly or currently in the foster care system. Budget language also extends the age of eligibility for transitional housing in all counties to any former foster youth who is 18 to 25, and would extend the maximum time they may receive services to 36 months (up from age 24 and a maximum duration of 24 months, with a county option to extend service up to 36 months, as of 2021-22).

  • Augments Funding for Dependency Counsel. $30 million ongoing for the judicial branch to address shortfalls in federal reimbursements for court-appointed counsel for children, non-minor dependents, and parents in juvenile court dependency proceedings.

  • Creates Foster Youth Substance Use Disorder Grant Program. $5 million one time for the Department of Health Care Services to implement the Foster Youth Substance Use Disorder Evidence-Based and Promising Practices Program, a grant program to fund the development and implementation of evidence-based models and promising practices to serve foster youth with substance use disorders.

  • Creates California Youth Apprenticeship Program for System-Impacted Youth. $65 million over three years for the Department of Industrial Relations to create an apprenticeship program to expand career opportunities for youth ages 16 to 24 who are experiencing homelessness or involved with the juvenile justice or foster care systems.

  • Funds HOPE Accounts for Youth in Long-Term Care. $100 million General Fund in 2022-23 for transfer to a new special fund, the California Hope, Opportunity, Perseverance, and Empowerment (HOPE) for Children Trust Account Fund to be administered by a new HOPE program board, under the auspices of the State Treasurer’s Office. Initially, trust accounts will be established for children who have lost a parent or primary caregiver to the COVID-19 pandemic and for children in long-term foster care. Funds in the accounts may be used for any purpose by the recipients.