Tiffany Soto knew she would have to make some sacrifices when she took in in her 3-year-old nephew Elijah in 2010.
But Soto had little choice—if she didn’t take him in, foster care would.
Soto, who was 28 at the time, knew the system well. Growing up in Los Angeles, some of her family members had been involved in foster care.
But keeping her nephew out of foster care turned out to be a costly endeavor. Like many relative caregivers, Soto received roughly $360 per month in CalWORKs benefits as opposed to the $820 that non-relative foster parents regularly receive. Cash-strapped and not eligible for federal foster care benefits, Soto struggled to pay for Elijah’s tuition, behavioral therapy, clothing and food on her modest salary.