CHICAGO (WTWO/WAWV) – 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 offset the recent increases in cost of living expenses experienced by families throughout the state.

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

“Foster parents and foster youth deserve our state’s investment,” said Governor JB Pritzker. “As living costs continue to increase throughout the nation, Illinois is working to provide needed resources to these vulnerable children. By increasing financial support to foster parents, caregivers, and young adults in care, we are standing up for our most vulnerable youth, and we will continue to do so.”

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, from $492 to $544 per month; while families caring for children between the ages 9 and 11 will see the largest increase, from $545 to $656 per month. More than 8,100 foster families who have opted to remain unlicensed will receive an increase of $66 a month, from $322 a month to $388. Youth in care over the age of 18 who are living in transitional programs will see an increase from $511 a month to $586, and those pursuing higher education will see their monthly stipend increase from $1,317 to $1,506.

As part of the last budget cycle, DCFS projected 18,511 youth in care at the end of the fiscal year that ends on June 30. DCFS currently has more than 17,800 youth in care, approximately 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.