- Family and Parenting
Making Money Off Foster Care
You must be kidding?!
Nothing is more insulting than some random person making the comment "Oh you do foster care for the money?". Well first I own a business & have a job (as does my partner) so we can comfortably support ourselves AND the kids. Second the reimbursement rate doesn't even cover the basics like food or clothing for a growing teenager, much less anything left over for normal teenager stuff.
Well how much do you get?
In my state we get $372 per month, plus once a year they do a clothing voucher for $480.
It doesn't cover homecoming, school supplies, sports, field trips, school pictures, summer camp, toys, computer, prom, movies, vacations, amusement parks....or anything else that is normal for a teenager to do. That all comes out of our pocket to make sure the kids can be kids.
$480 is great except when the kid only comes in the clothes on his back. Any idea how much it costs to outfit a 16 year old from the floor up, for ALL the seasons at once? Don't forget gym clothes, court clothes, swimsuit, or a winter coat! Did I mention we only get the voucher for JCPenny's? Yeah we never figured out how to make it stretch that far either.
We use 2 gallons of milk in a day...seriously.
3 Pounds of bananas last us 1 day.
I added 3 bedrooms onto my house & bought an 11 passenger van JUST for the kids.
You don't have to spend that much...
Well honestly do you really think I'm going to go to an amusement park Without the kids?
That I'm going to grill up Steaks & give them Mac & Cheese?
Or that we are going to go all out for Christmas but leave them out?
Any kid in our house is treated like a member of the family. This isn't about money or stuff or going places, it's just about being included, no matter what we are doing.
The entire point of fostering is to have the child feel like they are home until they can go home.
Ouch the utilities...
Add a few extra clean teenagers with a gaming habit & my water / electric bill doubled...Ugh. Dish bill doubles with more boxes, phone bill quadrupled with more line for those ninja texters.
And the laundry, OMG the laundry never ends. How do they get so many clothes dirty in one day?
Foster care reimbursement rates in Missouri among lowest in US
"Foster care in Missouri is split among three levels of care, and those working in each receive different amounts of compensation determined by Missouri law.
Traditional foster parents take in regular children without extraordinary needs. All foster parents start at this level and receive anywhere from $332 to $372 a month, depending on the age of the child.
Level A, or “behavioral” foster care, is the next level and involves caring for children who have behavioral and emotional problems, such as difficulties controlling anger. Level A foster parents are trained by state counselors and therapists, and they must have at least one year of experience as a traditional foster parent. Level A foster parents receive $732 a month.
Children who require Level B, or "career" foster care, have severe emotional and behavioral needs. Level B foster parents have several hours more training than Level A foster parents and have served as traditional foster parents for at least two years. They must be willing to devote most of their time and energy to their foster children and receive $48 every day a child is in their home.
The survey was conducted by Children’s Rights, the National Foster Parents Association and the University of Maryland School of Social Work. The study identified the "minimum adequate rates for children" specific to each state and based on an analysis of the real costs of providing care. This includes food, clothing, shelter, daily supervision, school supplies, insurance and travel.
The average amount of reimbursement across all ages in Missouri for 2007 was $227 per month. The average minimum adequate rate across all ages was $711."
There are so many other ways to make much more money that is not nearly as emotionally taxing as being a foster parent. Money is, in no way, shape or form, a consideration as to why anyone is a foster parent.
Missouri foster care payments fall short
"In 2007, Children's Rights, University of Maryland School of Social Work and the National Foster Parent Association released a report detailing how much payment foster parents in each state should be receiving. In 2008, Missouri raised the amount paid to foster parents based on lobbying done by groups using the report. However, the amount still falls short of the suggested rates. "
Good Books About Foster Care
Surely you know how much time it takes for normal everyday kid stuff...and time is money right? So let me give you a typical breakdown of what happens when a new kiddo moves in....
Aside from total shock, dismay & nervous laughter you need to get some things done...Immediately.
The kids need clothes & like now. They came with stuff that looked like it was from a dumpster, doesn't fit or flat out nothing. If they came from another foster home you are usually pretty good to go because they sent the kids stuff that actually fits. So you need to take all the kids to the store & help them pick out clothes, shoes, socks, a backpack...They will either want nothing or Every. Single. Thing. They. See. Fun times.
Within 24 hours of placement you need to get the kid into see a doctor...sorry if you had plans or work. You need to track down all their school info & have it faxed over to the new school. If the kids has an IEP (Individual Education Plan) & most do it can take a week to set that up Before they can even start school...again I hope you have vacation time at work. Within 3 days you & the kids will head to a court hearing to determine if they even stay in care, go to relative or need special services. This is always fun when you buy a kid $300 worth of clothes, take 3 days off work & then they leave...never hearing from them again.
Kids visits...you will be driving the kids to family visits. These will typically be an hour long & 1-5 times a week. These are usually hard on the kids...so plan on letting them run crazy in a park to let off some steam afterwards. Then plan on fielding some pretty awful questions as these little people try to get their head around when they can go home....You learn to do your very best to not cry in front of them.
Medical appointments....OMG you have no idea. In addition to family visits the kids must also go to therapy at least once a week. Get a sibling group of 5? That's right pal you're looking at 5 separate appointments a week...usually not in the same building or with the same person. Plus dental...that will almost always be some major situation. Medical involves everything from general issues to mental health issues...plan on at least one actual doctor appointment per week if you have several kids....not counting if someone is actually sick.
My first placement...So let's say you got a new kid this week (who came with a dog...WTH?) & you have managed to get them clothes, food they will actually eat...plus dog food (Again, who gives a homeless kid a dog?!) & settled in your house. Now you find out they will need to go to the dentist once a week for 6 weeks to fill every single tooth in his head...plus the dentist is an hour away (figures). Somehow no one told you their birthday is in 4 days (good thing you had their medical card with the dates on it). The kid is 78 pounds 4'7" tall & 15 years old so that should be looked at for sure...you make a note to call someone...not sure who. Has the dog had shots? No, OK well he needs shots...add that to the list (you get to pay for that too).
Now for the therapy...hmmm that is also an hour away but they can double up on the day you have to drive him the hour to see family...fine. Once you find the right guy to deal with the not growing bit you find out the kiddo who you've known for 3 weeks now needs brain surgery....Flipping wonderful...plan on sleeping at the hospital because he's afraid of his shadow & leaving him all alone isn't an option (I really hope you didn't have anything planned for a few months!). The kid has surgery & gets 6 weeks off school to recover...which means you get to entertain a kid that can barely move his head for at least 4 weeks....naturally you go on a shopping spree of crafts, models & stuff he can do sitting or laying...which prompts the other kid to whine that HE should get brain surgery so he can get more stuff (Sighs). FYI the kid is on a second grade reading level, can barely add & has the social skills of a bull....a wild bull....be sure to plan time to work on all that stuff too!
Once you get the brain thing fixed & the kiddo on growth meds be sure to set aside a mountain of cash because in 8 months this kid is going to tear thru 5 shoe sizes & go from a boys size 8 to a Men's medium in clothing (not even remotely exaggerating). Now remember this is NOT your kid. You just stopped your entire life for a child that will go home....for $372 a month.So how much is your time worth? Think anyone would do ALL that & give up life as they knew it for $372?
FYI the kid is a respectable 5'7" tall now & totally fine medical wise.
So why do you do this?
Simple, for the kids.
If anyone does it for any other reason then they shouldn't bother.
Have you ever seen the face of a child light up because those new shoes you bought were their first new pair EVER?
Have you ever seen a child almost cry when they saw their "new room"? Or ask you how many people they had to share their bed with?
How about that surprised face when Santa Actually came...when he never remembered that kid before...and the the follow up heart breaker of "Do I get to really keep the toys or are they going to get sold?".
Those moving moments when a child gets something they need & truly deserve is amazing.
To date I've had to replace
Carpet in 5 rooms
Hardwood floor for dining room
1 Used Infinity QX4
Entire set of pots
That is stuff I had to pay for myself that the kids destroyed. Did you know microwaves explode if you turn them on with nothing inside...for 25 minutes? Or if you put a Tide POD in the dishwasher it creates a foot of bubbles thru the house? Or if you push the buttons on the new dishwasher too hard that it won't shut off? That's right 3rd replacement dishwasher in 3 years.
The low down on daycare....
Did you know most states do NOT cover daycare costs for foster kids? So that whopping monthly payment you get also has to cover $200-$400 a week in childcare. And as an extra special bonus you can only use state licensed daycare's.
Did you know if you need a babysitter that you will have to get their social security number & have a background check done on them first? Same thing for the kids going to sleepovers....can you imagine how awkward that conversation is? "Oh little johnny wants to spend the night...can I just get you to fill out this form & wait 1-3 weeks for the results.". That's right a foster kid that has lost everything cannot even hang out at their friends house without you.
If your mom wants to come spend the weekend with you...yep, any adult staying the night in your home will need a background check as well.
So in addition to feeding, clothing & housing a child you also get to pay for
All the damage that they may do.
All toys, games & hobbies.
Music lessons, Scouts & any other activities.
Sports & all the equipment.
Daycare or babysitters.
Your time is now Their time...cancel all plans.
Maybe I'm using old school math here but I see no possible way to even break even in this equation. I have yet to figure out how to keep a human alive, fed, housed, happy, educated, cultured & dressed for less than $13 a day.