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.