Saturday, August 30, 2008

"How much do you get paid to be a foster parent?"

Update[2]: 7/29/08

That question is the single most common query that brings new people to this site. So, if that is why you got here, I'm going to try to answer that question, but I do hope you stick around to check out the rest of the blog.

The phrase you wanted was "foster care reimbursement rates." My assumption is that you, dear searcher, are trying to figure out whether you can afford to do care. There are people who think that foster parents do it for the money, but that really is a myth. The money that is paid to foster parents is for reimbursement for expenses. There is no profit in it.

I recommend this article from the National Foster Parent Association. [update: this article has been removed. You still might want to visit the NFPA though.] They have a good chart for the base rates. It is a little misleading though because there are usually higher rates for children who are more difficult to care for in one way or another. In extreme cases, the money is high enough to compensate for the inability to work outside the home while caring for children. You will probably find that it is difficult to learn in advance what the higher levels of reimbursement are.

An excellent study on foster care reimbursement rates around the country is here: http://www.childrensrights.org/policy-projects/foster-care/hitting-the-marc-foster-care-reimbursement-rates/ [link updated 8/29/08]

One thing that it is important to know is that you will typically not get any reimbursement until after a child has been with you for four to six weeks. There is also generally no reimbursement for "start up" costs, which can be considerable. Depending upon what age child you are planning on taking, you may have to purchase cribs, high chairs, beds, car seats, and more. Do not expect to have any of those expenses reimbursed.

Most states have a voucher system for clothing. Where I live that means that every month you get a voucher for $50 which can be used only at the large discount stores (W*lmart, etc.). You can maintain a child's wardrobe with that amount of money, but many kids will come to you with inadquate clothing; some come with nothing but what they are wearing. There is a good chance that you will find yourself having to spend hundreds of dollars up front to get children the very basics and that will not be reimbursed.

I work for a private agency that is considerably more generous. They will reimburse when you mail in receipts which allows me to take advantage of sales anywhere. Their yearly clothing allowance is $600, but I have had social workers approve exceptions when necessary. That is not a typical situation.

Reimbursment is a awkward topic, and I have written about it before, but it was part of "Ann's Story" which is now on the private blog. Here is the relevant portion of that post:

___________

My husband and I are teachers. Our students are about as far apart as it possible to get, but we are both teachers. We love what we do. We put time and energy into it. We also "do it for the money." If I could not get paid to do it, I would have to do something else.

I hate it when I hear people talk about foster parents "doing it for the money." Most foster parents get less in reimbursement than it costs to take care of the kids. Most get less than the average child support payment. So first it bothers me because it is false. It bothers me secondly because I think it ought to be possible for people to be professional foster parents and be respected for doing it. Doctors, teachers, and hair dressers all get paid to do what they do. Getting paid does not meanthat they do not care or that they treat those they care for poorly.

In my area there is a local private program with which the state contracts. They do have a group home, but they also have foster homes. All their homes have one room with a keyed lock in which every sharp object and household chemical is kept. They require that at least one adult be home full-time. I don't know what the reimbursements are, but I know that they are higher to compensate for that requirement. The women I know that work with this agency have had previous careers in retail and filing. They report that the reimbursement levels did allow them to leave those jobs. They are pleased to be able to help support their family by doing something which they know few other people can do as well.


On 8/28/08 I received this:

I happened to come across your blog post about foster care reimbursement rates and wanted to drop a quick line of thanks for referencing our "Hitting the MARC" report on the topic -- and also to let you know that the link has changed. We just launched a whole new website, which we hope will be an even better resource for people interested in foster care and child welfare issues, and though your link will get people to the site, it won't get them to the correct page. The new link is http://www.childrensrights.org/policy-projects/foster-care/hitting-the-marc-foster-care-reimbursement-rates/.

As part of the new site, we've also just launched a blog of our own, and while there's not much there yet, there will be soon enough.

All the best,
Chris


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Chris Iseli
Director of Communications
Children's Rights


37 comments:

  1. Foster care reimbursement has made it possible for me to provide our kids with opportunities that they might not have otherwise had. For a while, I did not work outside the home, and I was able to do that because I had a "specialized" kid and the reimbursement was higher. But it's not like they were subsidizing my life of leisure. I couldn't work and parent this child.

    Right now, we have 2 big kids (aged out) and a granddaughter that WE are subsidizing. And it is killing us financially because we did not have 18 years to save for the kids' college time. And the amount of subsidy we get for our current kids does not even cover their expenses.

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  2. Just wanted to add a short note that some states have much lower monies for clothing. Here is WI (at least according to the website), you get $150-200 (higher for teens) if it's the child's first time in care or they have been out of care more than 4 months. ONCE. You are never reimbursed again, nor if the child was moved and clothes don' come along. It's included in your monthly reimbursement rate otherwise. And, as the data has shown, WI has one of the lowest rates for that (the basic rate is about $350-450). I still find it quite weird that a foster parent is paid less than day care costs. Yet, if the parents both work, they will pay for day care for the foster child. ::sigh::

    If we do foster care, I'll continue to outfit my children from garage sales, just as do my current child. I couldn't afford otherwise anyway!

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  3. Anonymous5:17 PM

    I have a friend that is getting $22 a day per kid and she has the kids on wick. Her mother in law watches the kids for free. She had the highchairs and crib donated. She is making money off of this. She tries to act like she doesn't do it for the money but she does. I think it should be illegal.

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    1. What should be illegal? Paying people to take care of children that are not their own? I think your judgement is based on the quality of the person of whom you are speaking. I think that a foster parent that uses that money to help children recover from the damage caused by an abused life by spending time with them that could only be afforded by being compensated enough to do so should not be illegal. That logic would mean that daycare centers should likewise be illegal or somehow staffed with wealthy or retired people. What is the difference? When I was growing up, my mother was friends with a woman that had nine children of her own and lived on the welfare that came in for the kids. She bought cigarettes, lotto, booze and nights out on the town while the kids shared a half gallon of milk a day, beds sheets that chaffed they were so gritty with dirt... It all depends on the quality of the people!

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    2. What should be illegal? Paying people to take care of children that are not their own? I think your judgement is based on the quality of the person of whom you are speaking. I think that a foster parent that uses that money to help children recover from the damage caused by an abused life by spending time with them that could only be afforded by being compensated enough to do so should not be illegal. That logic would mean that daycare centers should likewise be illegal or somehow staffed with wealthy or retired people. What is the difference? When I was growing up, my mother was friends with a woman that had nine children of her own and lived on the welfare that came in for the kids. She bought cigarettes, lotto, booze and nights out on the town while the kids shared a half gallon of milk a day, beds sheets that chaffed they were so gritty with dirt... It all depends on the quality of the people!

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  4. Anonymous11:42 AM

    I'm wanting to become a foster mom. If I said money wasn't part of it I would be lying...I have 4 children of my own already. It is very expensive to raise children! For someone to say that a foster parent shouldn't make money, that is criminal. How in the heck could you feed, clothe, care and provide extra curricular activities for your foster children without financial help? Every extra dime my husband and I earn go to our children, it wouldn't be any different for our foster children. Our foster children should and would be just as spoiled as our own children! Good for the friend who was able to have furniture donated and a mother-in-law whom helps. If the friend is making a profit she must be great with money because children are very costly. Just a simple family night out can run us easily 100+ with dinner coupons and going to the early movie. My average food bill runs 200-250 weekly (with coupons.) I have to cook every night except Wed. We go to Church on Wednesdays and take the family to dinner (expensive).If the state didn't help, only people with high incomes could become foster parents. Any one with children wouldn't question what the state pays only wish for more. Fostering is one of the hardest jobs in the world! Yes, it's a job. These kids have so many challenges already, poverty shouldn't be one of them!

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  5. Anonymous1:29 PM

    ya in a book i am reading for school (im 12) is about foster care it is called Another place at the table and it is by Kathy Harrison! she is a hot-line foster mom and this book is her life it is so good i suggest you read it!!!

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  6. Anonymous5:10 PM

    What time of month does the check arrive?

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  7. Anonymous11:46 AM

    well i am going into a foster placement and i am really looking forward to it i just want a famly figure to love me

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    1. I hope you find what you are looking for. EVERYONE deserves unconditional love.

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  8. I was a foster parent for a while, and for those who think that is for the " money" are wrong. What money? $ 21.44 a day to take care a child, in order to make $ 5.36 an hour you have to take care of 6 children ! That is a lot of responsabilities and stress especially when this kids come from homes of no rules, no manners and with a lot of pschilogical problems .
    I wish I could see those people who criticize paying for rent, water, power, gas, inspections, furniture that this kids need, fix up thing that this kids break, re-paint walls, repair for wall holes, CLEAN UP after them etc.....
    So those who think like , think twice before comment so bad about fostering!

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  9. Of course like every other profession, charity, or "do-gooders" (for lack of better word) there will always be crooked people out to scam or make money off of something or someone. Unfortunately, in this case the victims are children who more often than not have not been cared for in the first place by the people God made responsible for them. While I'm sure there are crooked people trying to make money in foster care...good luck to them! They WILL NOT succeed! The less they care the children, the more it will end up costing them in the long run! The real crime here is that these children are ALL searching for open arms, a place to call home, and someone to love them and direct them and the people willing to provide that may not be able to make it happen financially. We all make sacrifices for our children, and for the most part, I think most people would include their foster kids too, but there is NO money in fostering! To the people who think it's wrong for foster homes to get compensation up to and even over the amount of actual cost...do some research and see where foster children end up. The odds are stacked against them...the workers are few....let me just say, you get what you pay for. If foster homes got paid to provide the loving environment the children need, there might be more of them and less children feeling the way the child in the post ahead of me felt..."A family figure to love me".
    Go work at a day care for less than a dollar an hour and see how you feel about your job by the end of the month....then bring the most demanding child home with you for the same amount, then you can post a response about people working the system! Foster parents do a job very few people are willing to do, for nothing! It is out of love for the children who need a home in a time of need.....not a fat paycheck! I love these children, I love my job, there are good times and REALLY, REALLY hard times....sometimes the only payment received is EARNING the trust of a child who doesn't know how to trust!

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  10. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  11. Some good, interesting and sad thoughts here in the comments. I'm just starting to look into this. Not b/c we need the money, but b/c I believe we are called to look after those in need.

    Thanks for the advice on upfront costs. I hadn't thought about that. It is just something we'd have to be willing to do if we get that far.

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  12. Yeah I guess it seems like foster parents do not make that much but as a foster child that was starved my whole life and never bought any new clothes, I guess parents could make it a profitable business especially when they were doing this with all 8 of us.

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  13. CRAZY....of course the foster parents should be reimbursed for their time and expense of caring for foster children. It IS a job, an expensive job at that to raise children. To assume someone is going to do it just from the kindness of their heart...is ridiculous. IT IS work and should be reimbursed like work....just like day care and baby sitters are. I get sick of people being hypocrites and not wanting the gov't to spend a dime on kids or education but they continue to spend huge amounts of money on producing war machines and paying for a very huge military complex. Put the kids first and pay the teachers and the foster families a decent wage and you will attract a higher quality of people and our kids will be better off because of it!

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  14. I was a foster child along with my 5 other siblings, my mom (foster mom) took all of us in. She was single and age 58 when she got all of us. She had to stay home and not go to work. She made enough money from the state so she could raise us, she took us on trips and bought us nice clothes and we always had tons of Christmas toys. Foster care was her life and career, there is nothing wrong with making it career and getting paid for it.

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  15. [quote]What money? $ 21.44 a day to take care a child, in order to make $ 5.36 an hour you have to take care of 6 children ![/quote]

    That's $5.36/hour, 24 hours a day! Pretty sweet job making money while you're sleeping. If you count just the 'working' hours and exclude school and sleeping, they're making more like $20/hour, not $5.

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    1. You should be ashamed of yourself criticizing and nit picking! What have you done for anyone lately? How many kids did you take care of today?

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    2. You can do the math anyway you want. By and large foster parents are doing our nation a huge service, and I've never heard of a foster parent that retired wealthy.
      What have you done to help anyone else?
      Stop criticizing and nit picking...it's disgusting.

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    3. By the time you add up food, clothes, school supplies, and all the other expenses. You make negative amount of money, unless you manage to have a lot of kids. If that is the case, one of the adult doesn't work, so they can take care of all those children for the State. They are providing a service and should be compensated for it. The sad part is how little they actually receive for caring for our nations children, not how much.

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  16. I have read a few or your messages. First of all, I have two foster kids and one of my own at home that is 18. And YES, I am in it STRICTLY for the money! But that doesnt mean my kids arent VERY WELL taken care of within my means. And I'm not rich. There hasnt been barely a day passed when I dont get a compliment from a teacher or a friend on my foster kids. If I'm doing it strictly for the money, I promise you, the kids are not aware of it. I'm not a monster. I'm in need and they are too. They are helping me while I'm helping them. And I promise you...they are getting the better end of the stick. They are thriving everyday. They look good and feel good about themselves. You should have seen them when I first got them! It was a shame. In my area, at my agency, foster parents get pretty good! So I'm not going to lie and say I'm doing it for the kids because if there wasnt any monies involved, they would NOT be in my household. But I promise you also, NEITHER would swap places and go back where they came from! Yall have a nice day!!

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    1. As long as you are providing for all their basic needs and giving them love and attention I don't see what difference it makes what your motives are. You are fulfilling your end of the bargain--at a bargain price too I might add.

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  17. I was in fostercare for 10 years straight. I have been in about 20 different foster homes and residential treatment facilities such as Kidspeace. Many, actually MOST, of the families which took me in treated me poorly. They treated their natural children much better and would spend "my" money on new clothes for their kids, while I got hand-me-downs from their daughters. People DO make money off of us IF they are frugal and/or cruel. That being said, if the state could pay people a living wage to care for these children, they would attract a higher caliber of people and could screen better because there would be more applicants. If people could actually quit their jobs and be foster parents, more people would offer. How many social workers out there would give up their job at the office and in the car traveling, to stay home and care for a few needy kids on an individual basis? Tons, I'm sure! give them benefits and fair wages and people who are qualified and have experience in social work or psychology will do the job these scumbag trailer trash people are doing now!

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    1. What were your foster parents' relationship with each other?

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    2. What were your foster parents' relationships with each other like? Did both parents work typically? How many kids on average were in a home with you?

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  18. Being a foster parent should be all about love and never about money. If for some reason you are need of money get a job. I feel so sorry for these children, because I have so much love in my heart for them. Maybe one day God will bless me with enough money to take care of about five and never take a dime from anyone. That's what they really deserve. Poor kids all they need is love and someone with a good head on their shoulders to teach them the way to go in life. If you do not have those qualifications don't try to foster anyone, but yourself. THE TRUTH

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  19. Being a foster parent should be all about love and never about money. If for some reason you are need of money get a job. I feel so sorry for these children, because I have so much love in my heart for them. Maybe one day God will bless me with enough money to take care of about five and never take a dime from anyone. That's what they really deserve. Poor kids all they need is love and someone with a good head on their shoulders to teach them the way to go in life. If you do not have those qualifications don't try to foster anyone, but yourself. THE TRUTH

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  20. I am 22 years old, going to college for art. I have always wanted to be a foster parent, and not for the money. Money would be nice but as long as I had enough money for the kids I would be fine. I know my fiance and I would spoil them the most we could,lol. When i was little I was told that they even use to set up foster parents with proper housing though, I guess they much have changed that, idk.
    Is there any information anyone knows about that sort of thing? I was also told you could make requests on the type of child care you would like to provide, or like whither you want to foster specific age groups, of sex of the child or whither they have disabilities or not. anyone know if that is true? Also, would they not pic some one to be a foster parent because they are pagan? that is a really big concern i have. I want to be able to provide for these kids, but I do not want religious differences to be a factor.
    any info on this would be awesome, please email me at nicoleschalk@delta.edu
    thank you

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  21. Wow! I truly love some of these comments and I think some are selfish. I have 2 foster children a boy that is 2 1/2 and a girl that is 5. I don't receive much help from any agency but what I do get helps with food and clothing.
    and if I didn't get a thing I couldn't even think of not having them with me they are my life.
    Being a foster parent should be to help someone in need its a gift from a parent to a child in need but i'm finding out the gift is from them to me. I wish I could help them all!!!

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    1. I'm 17 and in foster care,have been since I was 9. I have been in many unpleasent foster placements,on my journey from my mother an family to random houses with people and their own families, I just felt like an outsider, never really got accepted into any family I got moved to, I kinda got the wrong impression on foster carers, I recently got moved to a foster home miles away from all my friends and family, but, the people I live with I love! Iv knew them since I was 11, moved in with them when I was 15, they love me and my little brother, I know they do, and I love them, I would happily call them my real parents. My old foster carer didn't give a shit about me or my brother, she wanted the money, she was loaded! Yeah, she had a lovely house, she even had her own business running from the house, but me or my brother never got a single penny off her. When I seen you say your foster children are your life, It made me think that not all carers are in it for the money, I know my current carers arnt, they love an treat me like their own, they don't have kids of their own but iv never been treated so well, these people are my family and I love them, I find it hard to let people in, and know about me, iv had a horrible, painful past, but none of that matters to me anymore, because I know they are gonna look after me, and give me a good future, and if I ever have kids I will never put them through what iv been through. I think the kids you are looking after are lucky, not many carers actually want to have these troubled kids, but I guess you do get the odd family who actually love you, sorry about all that hahaha I just needed to have my say out there (:

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    2. I'm 17 and in foster care,have been since I was 9. I have been in many unpleasent foster placements,on my journey from my mother an family to random houses with people and their own families, I just felt like an outsider, never really got accepted into any family I got moved to, I kinda got the wrong impression on foster carers, I recently got moved to a foster home miles away from all my friends and family, but, the people I live with I love! Iv knew them since I was 11, moved in with them when I was 15, they love me and my little brother, I know they do, and I love them, I would happily call them my real parents. My old foster carer didn't give a shit about me or my brother, she wanted the money, she was loaded! Yeah, she had a lovely house, she even had her own business running from the house, but me or my brother never got a single penny off her. When I seen you say your foster children are your life, It made me think that not all carers are in it for the money, I know my current carers arnt, they love an treat me like their own, they don't have kids of their own but iv never been treated so well, these people are my family and I love them, I find it hard to let people in, and know about me, iv had a horrible, painful past, but none of that matters to me anymore, because I know they are gonna look after me, and give me a good future, and if I ever have kids I will never put them through what iv been through. I think the kids you are looking after are lucky, not many carers actually want to have these troubled kids, but I guess you do get the odd family who actually love you, sorry about all that hahaha I just needed to have my say out there (:

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  22. Your dumb. I'm a foster child now I'm 17 but my foster mom pretty much kicked me out and still collects Hella money and doesn't give me a dime.

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  23. There is no money in foster care. I have 2 of my own and one foster child. I send my foster boy to the same school as my kids (private) and to all the same activities as my kids and that goes over the money I get for him right there. My kids call him their brother. He is part of the family. He is actually the only one with his own room I make mine share one. I can't imagine him not being here.

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  24. I am also a foster parent. If you know how to stretch a buck, foster parent payments are adequate for food and clothing. It's the extras that you won't have enough for (activities, family vacations, birthday parties, Christmas etc). We always treat our kids as they should be. We have taken them to Disney, put them in karate, etc. We currently have two special needs children and get quite a bit more money. This is used to help us deal with them. We spend it on behavior incentives (toys and family activites), swim lessons, etc. We also spend it on activities that allow DH and I to have time away from them and relax (such as a babysitter or a weekend gymnastics time). Before these children came, I was substitute teaching, but I had to stop. Mornings were so horrible getting the kids to school that I couldn't get out the door on time and be in a good state of mind. I also received too many calls from their school and had too many appointments for them. Because I gave up my work to properly parent these damaged children, I have no problems using "extra" money for me or my house as long as all of their needs (and wants) are met. There will always be some foster parents who do not provide for the children, but the most are taking money out of their own pockets.

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  25. I would love to be a foster permanent mom I am single. Cannot have kids I am alone and would love just to love a child my heart melts for these kids I'm afraid I couldn't because I only make 880.00 a month and can barely afford myself

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