Foster parents in Hawaii will get more money to help pay expenses for the children in their care under a lawsuit settlement announced Monday.

For almost a quarter-century, foster parents got monthly stipends of $529 to cover almost all the costs of caring for a child despite increasing costs.

Director of Human Services, Rachael Wong speaks during Governor Ige's press conference / update on Kakaako homeless enforcement. 16 oct 2015. photograph Cory Lum/Civil Beat
The plaintiffs said state Director of Human Services Rachael Wong “played a critically important part in reaching an agreement.” Cory Lum/Civil Beat

A group of foster parents sued the state Department of Human Services in a class action in December 2013. About six months later, the state increased its stipend rates based on the age of the child as the parties continued to debate what would be a reasonable amount.

The settlement announced Monday increases the monthly stipend to $649 for children up age 5, $742 for ages 6-11 and $776 for ages 12 and older. The clothing allowance will also increase by $210 to $426 per year, based on the age of the child.

The settlement is to remain in effect for 10 years, with the Department of Human Services committed to working out a way to adjust the stipend for inflation. Foster parents who cared for children from July 1, 2013, to June 30, 2014, will get an extra $35 a month for that period.

Funding for the settlement must be appropriated by the Hawaii Legislature. The increases are expected to cost about $8.5 million a year.

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