By Chris Tye

CHICAGO (CBS) — The state of Illinois is supposed to pay for the room, board and care for kids in foster care.

But, every year millions of dollars earmarked for kids with disabilities and deceased parents are taken by the state to pay for that care.

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CBS 2’s Chris Tye first exposed this legal practice and how some want to ban it.

This is money that exists for them, either Social Security or veterans benefits for parents who have died. Or money to help pay for their disabilities.

Money the state becomes manager of — then quickly reimburses itself.

She doesn’t want us to show her face, but 21-year-old Latasia Aldrige wanted CBS 2 to share her story.

“A lot of sexual abuse from the ages of four to 13.”

That lead to suicide attempts, then seven years in the care of the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services.

Now,  at 21, she is blind and out of the system. But over the years, the state became the payee or money manager for her vision disability benefits.

Seven years worth totaled over $63,000. What was waiting for her exiting the system?

“There was nothing. There was nothing left. Zero dollars,” said Lataisia Aldridge.

 

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According to DCFS “the SSI federal funds only cover a fraction of the cost of care leaving no reserve funds, the balance of the cost of care is paid for with state funding.”

“Don’t take it from these foster children.”

Congressman Danny Davis (D-7th) is working on legislation to make the state foot those costs…and put those benefit dollars into a savings account for when they turn 21.

She said she could have done so much with that money.

“Ooh, a lot. I could have got me a house.”

But the state uses her money and that of 3,244 others like her each year to reimburse itself.

It’s a legal practice that has saved taxpayers $74 million over the last five years.

And while it may lessen the burden on taxpayers it adds burden, Davis said to the weakest among us.

“It’s been a long standing practice. Doesn’t mean that its the correct practice.”

Lataisia said she feels like a revenue generator for the state.

“I really do. There’s nothing in there for me.”

The state has spent millions on private contractors to isolate which kids have which dollars associated with them, so they can become the money manager, and then reimburse itself.

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A DCFS spokesperson said they are exploring policies to begin savings accounts for kids in their care.