SitNews - Stories in the News - Ketchikan, Alaska


Foster Care in Alaska
By Matt Jackson


May 09, 2009

Today, I learned what really makes the "youth treatment system" go 'round in Alaska. It's not love, it is not about the kids, and no one cares about us. It is the money. I won't go into the many grievances Residential Youth Care and foster care have committed against me. Rather, today I will only talk about the numbers.

For the month of May, my foster parents will receive $3,900 in state money to care for one child. Me. I was never told this, I never knew, I only found out because they left their budget out on the computer desk. I never would have guessed. Admittedly, I eat and sleep in their house, but is that amount of money justified? When asking friends and teachers at school how much they thought foster parents received to care for one child for one month, the highest guess was 2,000, most were closer to 1,000. But even given generous estimates including food, utilities, gas and allowance ($15 a week), there is no way I cost them more than $1500 monthly. Where does the other $2400 go? I sure don't know.

Yesterday I bought a mother's day card for my real mother, $3. Last week I paid $150 in court fees for my emancipation case. Later today I will pay the enrollment fee to a prestigious college on the East Coast to the tune of $500. All $653 is coming out of my pocket. In about an hour I will be broke. Where did that extra $2400 for foster children go? I wish I knew.

When I asked Jack Duckworth, director of Residential Youth Care and the foster program, if he knew, he had an interesting point of view. "I'm not even putting this on the table. The state pays me to do them a service. I make shitloads of money." Mr. Duckworth, does indeed make lots of money, more than 1 million from Medicare and Medicaid alone. That doesn't include the money he makes of his four foster children. I've learned that he receives as much money for them as my foster parent's receive for me, about $130 per day. With four foster children that calculates out to $15,600 a month or $187,200 annually. I wish my mother, parent to four children, received half as much. Doesn't everyone wish they could get $3900 a month for having a kid?

Over the last 5 months I've been in treatment, (for one minor consuming alcohol) Mr. Duckworth, went a long way to convince me that it really was about the kids. However, yesterday he revealed what it is really all about. Mr. Duckworth, still remembers that he does a service to the State of Alaska. Unfortunately, he has forgotten that the State of Alaska is supposed to provide services to the People of Alaska. He is not supposed to be doing a service to the state, or to his budget. He is supposed to be doing a service to the children of Alaska.

But in a system which provides an extravagant amount of money for the control of children, there is only one eventual outcome. People, who care only about money, not kids, are being drawn into the system. I witness and experience it every day.

Matt Jackson
Ketchikan, AK

Received May 07, 2008 - Published May 09, 2009


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Ketchikan, Alaska