New guidance from the federal government will make it easier for states to stop a controversial practice that, according to a 2021 NPR investigation, keeps impoverished families in debt when their child is placed into foster care.
When children go into foster care, there's often a surprise for their parents: Many will get a bill from the state or county for "child support," to share the cost of their child's care.
These parents, however, are almost always poor and struggle to pay. The added cost, the NPR investigation found, can keep children in foster care for several added months and then burden already poor and troubled families with added debt, often for years.
Now, the Administration for Children and Families at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has issued new guidance to state and county child welfare officials that will allow them, if they choose, to stop sending bills to parents.