Philly still keeps the benefits of foster care youths despite a 2022 law banning the practice

Steve Volk and Julie Christie, Resolve Philly, The Philadelphia Inquirer •
a smiling young woman holding a cardboard fist

Despite the city's new law, DHS acknowledges it’s still keeping the money meant for foster kids — about $1.3 million in Social Security benefits for 380 children in a typical year.

A year ago, after a Resolve Philly/Inquirer investigation revealed that the city Department of Human Services routinely took millions of dollars belonging to youths in foster care, City Council passed a law banning the practice.

But despite the law, DHS acknowledges that it’s still keeping the money — about $1.3 million in Social Security benefits for 380 foster kids in a typical year, according to the investigation — and plowing it back into the city’s general fund.

“I am appalled that our young people in foster care continue to be robbed of benefits that belong to them even after City Council took action to ban this shameful practice,” city councilmember Jamie Gauthier said in an email.

The practice of taking money that legally belongs to a child in foster care and keeping it as repayment for services has long been decried by child advocates as “stealing money from foster kids” because children, by law, are not required to pay for their own foster care.

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About the Expert
Anahi completed four years in Advocates for Youth Justice (A4YJ), as a youth advocate through Juvenile Law Center’s Youth Advocacy Program and graduated from the program in 2019. She remains on as an active alumnus. Anahi also serves on the Youth Steering Committee as a youth advocate representative from Advocates for Youth Justice with the Care Not Control Coalition working to end Youth Incarceration in the state of Pennsylvania. She is also a certified Community Health Worker. Anahi has worked on various issues, and contributed to multiple publications as a member of A4YJ some of which include Another Chance: Youth Perspective and Recommendations to Create Positive Alternatives to Imposing Costs, Fines, and Fees, Broken Bridges: How Juvenile Placements Cut off Youth from Communities and Successful Futures. She was recently selected to serve as a youth advocate on the John Hopkins University Youth Advocates for Research in the Justice System Committee.