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FOSTER CARE County to pay stipend



Published: Sat, July 16, 2005 @ 12:00 a.m.



A former foster child, now 19, had asked to receive the support during college.

PITTSBURGH (AP) -- Allegheny County must pay a stipend to a 19-year-old former foster child as she attends a university on a full scholarship, according to a court ruling.

Last week, Allegheny County Judge Edward Borkowski ordered the Allegheny County Office of Children, Youth and Families to make nearly $3,000 in back payments to the Carlow University student and pay her a $14-a-day stipend. The money is due to the student on Aug. 7.

That decision came after the Pennsylvania Superior Court ruled the woman was entitled under state law to financial support while she attended college or until she turned 21.

The woman, who has not been identified, was placed in foster care with her paternal aunt and uncle in December 2002 when she was 16. She graduated with honors from Penn Hills High School in suburban Pittsburgh in 2004 and earned a full scholarship to Carlow University.

Legal battle

Before she turned 18, she asked a county judge if she could remain under county supervision and if she could receive financial support.

In September, Judge Christine A. Ward ordered the county to give her financial assistance, based on testimony that Philadelphia gives a $14-a-day stipend to former foster children who are attending college full time.

The county appealed Judge Ward's ruling, but the Superior Court upheld it in April.

Now, the county plans to appeal the Superior Court ruling, county Solicitor Michael Wojcik said. If the state Supreme Court permits the appeal, Wojcik said, he will ask the court to suspend the payments.

The woman's attorney from KidsVoice, an advocacy law firm in Pittsburgh, declined to comment.

According to Judge Ward's ruling, the county must pay the woman's stipend, but 80 percent of it would be reimbursed by the state and federal governments.

Organizations including the Juvenile Law Center in Philadelphia and the National Association of Counsel for Children have supported the woman's case.

The groups argued that former foster children who leave the child welfare system without being adopted or reunited with their parents are more likely to be jailed, unemployed, homeless and single parents.

Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.




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