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Payments to Alabama foster families will increase at least 5 percent

BIRMINGHAM (AP) — Alabama foster families will get at least 5 percent more money per child per month starting in November, but family advocates say that isn't enough.

Checks will will range from $432.50 to $468.50 depending on the child's age. Foster parents now are paid from $410 to $446 depending on age. There are more than 6,000 children in foster care in Alabama.

The increase will cost $1.7 million, with $1 million coming from the state and $700,000 from federal sources. The money goes toward medical, room and other expenses families take on when caring for foster children.

Buddy Hooper, president of the Alabama Foster and Adoptive Parent Association, said the increase is welcome but needs to be greater.

"That works out to about 70 cents a day, and that won't buy a Happy Meal," said Hooper who pointed out that one of the facets of Gov. Bob Riley's 2010 plan was a 25 percent minimum increase in foster parent payments.

He said foster family advocates were looking for a 25 percent increase, but the money wasn't there.

DHR officials said this increase is the first step toward the 2010 goal.

"This is part of that effort, with the available funding," DHR spokesman John Bradford said.

Children's Rights, a nonprofit that studies child welfare issues, recommended in its study earlier this year that Alabama, one of 49 states found needing an increase, should double its foster allowance. Arizona and the District of Columbia were the only states judged to meet or exceed children's needs.

Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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