There are many reasons that people seek to do foster care. I would be naïve to say that there aren’t people that do it for the money. However, in my personal experience, most people do not seek out foster care to make money. It is true that there is a monthly payment per child, but I will argue that that monthly amount is not enough to cover all the costs that a family puts out to support these children.
In its true form, the payment is called a reimbursement. The amount is calculated per child. The needs of the child, physical, mental, emotional, educational. A social worker and the family will sit down to complete a form to calculate the regular daily rate per child.
When my husband and I decided to pursue foster care, with the goal of adoption, we had no idea there was a reimbursement amount. We wanted a child. We hoped to adopt a child. What we didn’t know is that adopting a child from foster care is immensely time-consuming. The placement happens quickly, and while I prepped my employer for the eventual placement, we had very little time to prepare. In addition, I couldn’t take a long leave as I couldn’t be away from my position, even though I had earned FMLA benefits. In addition, we had no idea of the number of appointments that this child would require. And to note, our child did not have a plethora of diagnoses. Even with a relatively easy, smooth transition, there are several appointments per week, per month.
Ultimately when we decided to adopt our third child, it became necessary for me to quit my job and stay home to accommodate the constant parade of social workers, guardian ad litem, therapists, early childhood intervention. If the child has larger needs such as RAD, FASD, ASD, etc, the needs and appointments grow exponentially. We have been fortunate with our second adoption from foster care that most parental visits have been handled by an outside agency. I will say it’s disruptive to a normal family schedule and hard on all the children in the family.
In addition to the services that a child needs, we often deal with disgruntled biological families, though we had nothing to do with why the child was removed or how the case is going. We are just here simply to provide a safe, nurturing home for these children. Much to our dismay, our third child’s biological mother did not understand, and our family was subjected to visits from a sheriff and others from CPS. This led to additional therapy for our other children as well.
We believe in providing our children with as much normalcy as possible. We try to involve them in extracurricular activities such as dance, taekwondo, t-ball, soccer, swimming lessons. While the fee that is paid per child certainly helps alleviate some of the costs of caring for these children, it is most definitely not enough to cover the costs that families acquire by taking in foster children. Nevertheless, fostering a child—although difficult at times—is an amazing experience. One that many should consider embarking on.