ILLINOIS (WEHT) – The Illinois Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) is increasing the financial support provided to foster parents, caregivers and older youth in care to help with the recent increases in cost of living expenses experienced by families throughout the state.

“Foster parents are one of the key pillars of our child welfare system and these additional resources will help many families whose budgets have been impacted by inflation and other increased costs continue to provide a safe and loving home for every youth in our care,” said DCFS Director Marc D. Smith. “These families have opened their homes and their hearts to help have a positive impact on the lives of our state’s most vulnerable youth, and redirecting these funds will help ensure that foster families have the resources and support they need.”

DCFS said it had already planned on providing these families and youth a 3 percent cost of living adjustment. The new, additional support of $14.6 million is supported by less youth coming into DCFS care and reuniting youth with their biological families.

DCFS says the average additional increase, beyond the already planned COLA, for the more than 9,600 licensed foster families in Illinois will be $74 a month, although families will receive between $52 and $111 more depending on the age of the child. Foster families caring for children between the ages of 1 and 4 will see the lowest increase to $544 per month; while families caring for children between the ages 9 and 11 will see the largest increase to $656 per month.

More than 8,100 foster families who have opted to remain unlicensed will receive an increase to $388. Youth in care over the age of 18 who are living in transitional programs will see an increase to $586, and those pursuing higher education will see their monthly stipend increase to $1,506.

DCFS says as part of the last budget cycle, it projected 18,511 youth in care by June 30. DCFS currently has more than 17,800 youth in care, about 700 fewer than the projected number. This reduction is a reflection of fewer youth entering the child welfare system and youth being successfully reunited with their biological parents, says DCFS.