Finances are one of the most important things to consider around foster care, but no one openly talks about them. There are many misunderstandings and poor portrayals of foster care when it comes to where money is concerned.
We want to set the record straight and give you more information so you can be more prepared as you decide if becoming a foster parent is right for you. Simply put, if you can support your household and those in it currently, you can afford fostering.
When you spend your dollars on a foster child, it’s less about making purchases and more about making an investment.
1. Where Does the Funding Come From?
Foster care funds are provided by the federal government to states and then to child welfare organizations. The federal government runs operations, but the non-profit agencies, like Victor FFA, receive them to disperse to foster families.
These funds can come in the form of a reimbursement, subsidies, vouchers, and stipends. In some states a clothing voucher is provided at the beginning of the school year or at the time of a first placement. Victor FFA uses stipends.
2. What is the Funding For?
They can be used for things that you would normally spend on a child in your care. Extra-curricular activities like sports or clubs, clothing, and transportation are some of the main uses. The funds are not intended to supplement your household income.
You won’t have to cover medical insurance as Medicaid covers all medical, dental and counseling services.
3. Is Foster Care a Source of Income?
Taking care of children costs money, so we want to affirm that this is a valid question to have when thinking about becoming a foster parent. To be clear, the funds provided are a form of reimbursement for expenses, not a secondary form of income.
Children have basic needs like personal care items, clothing for different seasons, room supplies, and food. Then there are seasonal needs like school supplies, birthdays and field trips.
We don’t mean to lay this all out to scare you away from foster care, but you should have a clear picture of the financial responsibility of becoming a resource parent so you can be prepared for when you do welcome the child into your home.
4. Do You Lose Money with Foster Care?
If you are already financially stable and can support your household, then you can support a foster child.
The monthly stipend should cover most of your foster child’s needs. If you choose to have regular outings, like going on a camping trip or going to the movies every weekend (after the pandemic of course), then yes the costs will increase a bit.
For the time your foster child is in your home, they are another family member and get to be included in whatever activities everyone else is doing. You would never make a fancy dinner for your biological family and not include your foster child.
If it's too expensive to include your foster child in your everyday life, then being a foster parent may not be the best fit for you.
5. What is the Best Way to Invest in your Foster Care Child?
Each investment you make toward your foster child (big or small) contributes to their long-term success. Purchasing sports equipment opens opportunities for them to participate in local sport leagues and experience the joys and lessons of being part of a team.
But small investments can also produce a profound impact. Something as simple as baking a birthday cake can be thrilling for a child. Truly, each investment into your foster child can have a deep effect on their sense of self-worth and point of view on the world.
The point is, if you become a foster parent, all of the investments you make in contributing to the life of a foster child will outweigh the costs. If you’re ready for the next steps to becoming a foster parent then give us a call and we can tell you more about becoming a Victor FFA Foster Parent.