There are many American children who enter the foster care system on an annual basis. The reasons vary, but these children often go through foster care scenarios for most of their lives. On the other hand, some do get adopted by their foster parents if it is a good fit and both parties agree that this is what they want.
Money for basic needs
Since the U.S. foster care system can get inundated with children, they do offer economic incentives. These economic incentives come in the form of a base rate payment which helps to provide for basic needs of the child such as clothing, food, personal expenses, and transportation. In addition, all foster children are covered under the state’s health insurance–and, this includes coverage for mental or behavioral needs.
When it comes to fostering a child, some may wonder what do foster parents get paid. Again, the rates vary by state and need. For instance, fostering disabled children or children with special needs will get get a higher rate to help compensate for the many doctor’s visits and so forth. Yet, you should not consider foster parenting as a way to make an extra income.
Rates vary by state
While every state has a base pay rate, some higher than others based on cost of living, what you’ll find is the monthly subsidy is just enough to cover food, transportation, clothing, and some personal expenses. To illustrate, if you were to foster a child in Texas, you would get a subsidy of $400 per month. Those who foster in California may get up to $820 monthly. It is critical to find out what your state offers. As you can see, the amount is the bare minimum needed to comfortably care for a child.
Furthermore, the state will require verification your finances are competent enough to foster a child. For example, you must prove you have a steady monthly income and that it is enough to cover your rent, bills, and necessities. To convince the state of your financial stability, you will be asked to provide pay stubs and tax returns.
Is it really a paycheck?
Let’s clarify the statement, “paid.” Foster parents don’t actually get a paycheck. Rather, they get a reimbursement at the beginning of each month for the previous month’s expenses. So, you are not going to get a big paycheck the minute you sign the papers to foster a child. Moreover, this “reimbursement” may take longer than the first of the next month to reach you. Plus, if you calculate the rate in terms of a daily rate, the state does factor in the child’s age.
If you are fostering a baby, some states do increase the rate to compensate for the purchase of diapers. If you look in terms of daily rates, foster parents in the District of Columbia get around $30.66 per day. In contrast, Nebraska offers $7.23 per day, per child. If the child has a medical condition, the daily rate in a state such as Alabama would be $35.51.
What about tax deductions?
If you want to discuss tax credits, foster parents do not qualify for the same types of deductions as they would with adopted or biological children. Yet, you can deduct some of your expenses as charitable donations if the agency you work with accepts charitable donations.
Nonetheless, what if you decide to adopt your foster child–will you still get your reimbursement payments? The answer is yes and no. Many states would prefer adoption so they will offer a small monthly subsidy. There is also the Adoption Assistance and Child Welfare Act of 1980 that mandates adoption assistance for those who apply for these types of Federal subsidies. Most of the time, adoption assistance is only offered to “special needs” children who often cannot be adopted without adoption assistance.
Are the economic incentives enough?
Now that you see the subsidies and daily rates are quite minimal, do you still want to become a foster parent? If you’re interested in just the economic incentives, you might come out disappointed. You won’t even receive reimbursement until the second month anyway. The only reason you should want to become a foster parent is if you truly want to help children who have had a rough start in life.
It helps to note that many children in the state system have also been abused, so they will require more attention and patience in many ways–this is something you just can’t calculate in terms of cost. But, if you want to adopt, then adoption assistance can certainly help to cover expenses as well.
Fostering a child is not for the faint of heart, and it can become quite costly depending on the situation. Yet, the rewards can be priceless as you see how much your love and generosity has changed a child’s life.