Children’s Advocacy Institute Quoted by The New York Times on the Fight to Save Foster Youth’s Federal … – University of San Diego Website

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Tuesday, May 28, 2024TOPICS: Faculty and Staff, Politics and Law

Amy Harfeld

SAN DIEGO (May 28, 2024) – University of San Diego (USD) School of Law Children’s Advocacy Institute’s (CAI) Amy Harfeld, National Policy Advocate and Senior Staff Attorney, was quoted by The New York Times in a story entitled, “Foster Children Fight to Stop States From Taking Federal Benefits.”

According to the article, the longstanding practice of using a child’s federal survivor and disability benefits to defray the cost of foster care is under scrutiny in Congress and statehouses. The article highlights the story of James, a former foster youth whose benefits were taken by the state of California while he was in foster care.

“We see state agencies trying to fund themselves off the backs of the very children they are supposed to serve,” said Amy Harfeld, national policy director at CAI, which works to improve quality of life and protections for foster care youth. “It is outrageous.” 

According to the article Harfeld further stated,  that children whose federal benefits are collected by the state receive the same foster care services as those who do not receive the benefit.

“There is no such thing as foster care plus,” Ms. Harfeld said. “The only distinction is that some children are being charged for their care while all the other kids are having their care paid for by the state.”

CAI, with support from funders, has been leading a multidimensional campaign to eradicate this practice nationwide. A well-established leader on this issue, CAI is leading reform efforts at the federal, state, and local levels to protect the rights and preserve the benefits of foster youth. CAI issued a 50 state report card entitled, “Foster Care or Foster Con? Preserving the Federal Benefits of America’s Most Vulnerable Children.” According to the report, California received an F for its effort to protect foster youth’s benefits.

To view the full article, visit The New York Times.

To learn more about CAI’s campaign to stop this practice, please visit our Preserving Federal Benefits of Foster Youth website.

About the Children’s Advocacy Institute

The Children’s Advocacy Institute (CAI), founded at the nonprofit University of San Diego School of Law in 1989, is one of the nation’s premiere academic, research, and advocacy organizations working to improve the lives of children and youth, with special emphasis on improving the child protection and foster care systems and enhancing resources that are available to youth aging out of foster care.

In its academic component, CAI trains law students and attorneys to be effective child advocates throughout their legal careers. Its Child Advocacy Clinic gives USD Law students three distinct clinical opportunities to advocate on behalf of children and youth, and its Dependency Counsel Training Program provides comprehensive training to licensed attorneys engaged in or contemplating Dependency Court practice.

CAI’s research and advocacy component, conducted through its offices in San Diego, Sacramento, and Washington, D.C., seeks to leverage change for children and youth through impact litigation, regulatory and legislative advocacy, and public education. Active primarily at the federal and state levels, CAI’s efforts are multi-faceted—comprehensively and successfully embracing all tools of public interest advocacy to improve the lives of children and youth. To support CAI’s work, please visit

About the University of San Diego School of Law

Each year, USD educates approximately 800 Juris Doctor and graduate law students from throughout the United States and around the world. The law school is best known for its offerings in the areas of business and corporate law, constitutional law, intellectual property, international and comparative law, public interest law and taxation.

USD School of Law is one of the 84 law schools elected to the Order of the Coif, a national honor society for law school graduates. The law school’s faculty is a strong group of outstanding scholars and teachers with national and international reputations and currently ranks 30th nationally among U.S. law faculties in scholarly impact and 41st nationally in past-year faculty downloads on the Social Sciences Research Network (SSRN). The school is accredited by the American Bar Association and is a member of the Association of American Law Schools. Founded in 1954, the law school is part of the University of San Diego, a private, independent, Roman Catholic university chartered in 1949.

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