Foster care is rewarding, difficult, an act of love, an opportunity to serve, and a great use of time. But in an attempt to help those considering foster care to have a clear indication of what foster care is, this article will cover what foster care is not.

1 – Foster Care is not a way to get rich quick.  States offer a small stipend to be provided to foster parents for each child in their care. The amount varies per state, but the average is just $25 – $30 per day per child. Generally this amount does not even cover the cost of feeding and clothing the child in foster care. Certainly, $20 – $30 per day should not be considered income, as it is only enough to help pay costs.

2 – Foster Care is not always heartbreaking. “I’ll only have my foster child long enough to fall in love, then the child will be taken from me.” The average stay for a foster child in a particular home is 9 months to 1 year. It is true that the goal is to reunite foster children with their birth families. Many birth parents will make necessary changes and will eventually provide a safe, loving environment. Some birth parents will not make those changes, and their children may eventually become adoptable. Foster parents who have been providing for and loving children who become adoptable will be offered an opportunity to adopt the children already in their care.

3 - Foster Care is not filled with “bad” kids. It is through no fault of their own that children are removed from neglectful or abusive homes. While some children may have developed unhealthy defense mechanisms or unruly behavior, the children are good children who are in need of loving, safe homes. In fact, 31% of children entering foster care are under the age of 5.  25% of foster children enter the system as infants. Certainly, they are innocent souls who will thrive in a loving home. Older children also respond well, and the foster care system assists with counseling services and other needed help to support foster children and youth through recovery from the abusive or neglectful lives they’ve lived.

Those who provide foster care will most certainly make a difference in the lives of the children they care for. As with all relationships, there may be trials, heartbreak and testing. But there will also be joy, fulfillment and increased love. It is a fact of life that we love those whom we serve. Understanding that foster care is not a way to get rich, is not always heartbreaking, and is not filled with bad kids will help form a realistic view for potential foster parents.  Summed up in one word, for all involved, foster care is rewarding.