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Making Money Off Foster Care

Updated on May 30, 2016

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...

Ouch the utilities...
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 reimbursement rates in Missouri among lowest in US

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. "

The Time...

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 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 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 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 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 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 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

3 Dishwashers


Screen door

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.

Let's recap...

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.

Do foster parents make money?

What do you think?

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What do you think?

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    • profile image

      raniac 22 months ago

      We had a cousin who would leave her 6 month old w/us for 3 weeks, not a word from her. I had to go to garage sales & thrift shops immediately to find some clothes & borrow a swing & bassinet from family members. Then, she had his WIC vouchers, so i had to pay for formula too, plus bottles & diapers. BTW, i had to buy a new diaper bag b/c i could not get rid of the smell of smoke. Then she showed up & said they were moving, in the next 15 minutes!

      My eldest son was 10 at the time & he yelled at her 'no real mom leaves her kid for weeks, then comes back like it was fine!" He was crying, i was trying not to cry as i filled a box w/his formula, other things he ate by then, & diapers. She was crying when she left, then when my husband got home from work, he was worked up into a frenzy.

      The next day i was leaving for an overnight conference & she called & asked me to come pick her up. Of course i went right over to the next town to get them & there was a toilet in the living room of this trailer, hardly any furniture...& to top it off, she was pregnant, 5 months & hadn't been to the dr yet. I took her & turned out she needed stress tests 3 times/ wk & was put on bed rest! So i let her pick out the color to paint her room, had a twin bed & found an old dresser in my mom's garage. Then i took her to the maternity store to buy her some clothes b/c she didn't have anything & she was starting to stretch them out. Then her boyfriend got out of the hospital ( 23 & renal failure which required dialysis 3 times/wk since he had used so many serious drugs). After the 2nd boy was born, she packed up, stole my son's vacation money & left before we even got home. Turns out DFS was looking for her b/c they had found drugs in her system when she was admitted to the hospital. We still went to get the older boy every Friday, but she had to pick him up b/c it broke our hearts to see him at the screen of the door screaming & beating on the screen.

      Shortly after, she left her boyfriend & moved to another town. After a few weeks, she called & asked if we would take the older boy for the semester she needed to graduate b/c she had a job & was going to play softball her last semester. Of course we said yes, then a few hours later she called & asked if we would take the new baby. We said we would try it for a week. When we got there, she had them both in their car seats & all of their things bagged up. She handed me her WIC folder, laughing at the fact that about 2 months of vouchers were expired & handed 20 bucks for diapers!

      Then, we didn't have daycare coverage for a 2 mo old & 13 mo old. I called every caseworker daily until i finally got a meeting w/the big shot who kept saying it wasn't going to happen. I wheeled my double stroller in there, after waiting over an hour. We began to talk & both boys just started screaming & crying. The man had the audacity it ask me why i didn't leave them somewhere! I flatly answered "i take them everywhere, i don't have daycare coverage." I left there w/6 months emergency daycare coverage! Squeaky wheel gets the oil.

      The rest of the foster care nightmare was extremely similar many who remarked on here. But it was 3 yrs before we actually had them adopted. We still get a stipend but it is 1/2 of foster stipend, but no more mileage reimbursement, clothing vouchers, etc. We did get to keep medicaid, but we had put them on our insurance as soon as we had them. Although, Missouri is now reimbursing us for the whole family's insurance premium a week, which is $82/ wk. And they require us to still use medicaid as our secondary, so we still have 0 copays?

      They are 9 & 10 now and they know her but she had the nerve to ask if she could have them for a week this summer? No need to answer that question! She has 2 more kids now, so i guess she wants to play mommy.

      She can read people so well & she knew it was a NO before she even asked!

    • profile image

      Kenya 3 years ago

      This article is right on. My partner and I just adopted 3. We are not even close to rich. Our house went from 2 kids to 5. Our water bill and light bill went up. Our grocery bill went through the roof. We are spending about $1000.00 a month on food. That so called subsidy doesn't even pay the fees for our son to play football or pay the $2700 it takes for our daughter to join little league cheer leading. We certainly didn't do it for the money. People who have that idea are crazy!

    • bead at home mom profile image

      Teri Hansen 3 years ago

      I've always felt it takes a very special person with tremendous dedication to take on the task of foster care. Thank you for sharing your gifts.

    • profile image

      SteveKaye 3 years ago

      We need people who tell the truth about human service activities, such as foster care. There are too many dangerous myths out there.

    • SheGetsCreative profile image

      Angela F 3 years ago from Seattle, WA

      I'm glad you were able to set the record straight about fostering.

    • Diana Wenzel profile image

      Renaissance Woman 3 years ago from Colorado

      I am grateful for every family who puts a foster child first and helps transform his or her life in every possible way.

    • Merrci profile image

      Merry Citarella 3 years ago from Oregon's Southern Coast

      Thanks for taking care of the kids! Your lens is an eye opener.

    • profile image

      skaneny 3 years ago

      You can make money from foster care? Really? Just try it! If it was that easy there would be a LOT more foster parents and we'd all be running to the bank. Instead there are a shortage of foster parents and we're running to various medical appointments, visitations, soccer games etc. As you can tell by now, I'm a foster parent too. It's hard work but I love it. Rewarding? Yes! Challenging? Yes! Financially lucrative? Nonsense! We lose money on foster care but it's worth it and once you start, it's hard to stop because you get to be the angel that makes things better, and buy them treats like new clothes, shoes, swimming lessons... things they've never had! Of course the one or two foster parents who have been mean and stingy is what makes headlines in the media and the rest of the foster parents get a bad rap too. For anyone who thinks you can make a dime from foster care, I challenge them to try it! Let's see if they have the heart and the stamina to do it. I bet they'll change their tune afterwards and will be wanting to give foster parents a medal after their first placement!

    • Lynn Klobuchar profile image

      Lynn Klobuchar 3 years ago from Minneapolis, Minnesota

      I think you are aces for welcoming these kiddos into your home and into your hearts. Thanks you, thank you.

    • LiteraryMind profile image

      Ellen Gregory 3 years ago from Connecticut, USA

      This is very enlightening. I never really thought about the every day things involved in foster care.

    • groovyfind profile image

      Samantha Devereux 3 years ago from Columbia Mo

      @Lady Lorelei: They are, in the UK as well. So much could be fixed if they just helped these kids when they are young.

    • Lady Lorelei profile image

      Lorelei Cohen 3 years ago from Canada

      Wow I think in Canada that foster parents are paid much higher than in the US. It is sad to see because kids are such a valuable investment in the future.

    • Brite-Ideas profile image

      Barbara Tremblay Cipak 3 years ago from Toronto, Canada

      It takes a very special person to foster children. It's a big job with tremendous responsibility. Any of us who have had children know EXACTLY the commitment this is. I've never fostered children, but I've raised 4 sons and 3 stepkids - been raising kids since I was 21. People who make heartless comments like you referenced about doing for it the money are unkind. I'm not saying there aren't any bad apples, but to suggest a large percentage are, is heartless.

    • Frischy profile image

      Frischy 4 years ago from Kentucky, USA

      This is so true! It broke my heart that even the workers seemed suspicious that foster parents were doing it for the money. What money? It's a very weird stereotype, because raising any child is expensive. And even the most "traditional" foster child comes with a lot of needs. Not to mention, things get broken in the house, utilities are increased, and gas to run her to her activities. The stipends help, but they are not enough to raise a child.

    • profile image

      nerdsoncall 6 years ago

      Thanks for posting. I agree with you 100% you are doing an amazing thing. Keep it up.

    • ctavias0ffering1 profile image

      ctavias0ffering1 6 years ago

      There are a few 'foster parents' who do go into it for the money but they are normally pretty quickly weeded out and sometimes even end up being prosecuted for neglecting the kids. Having said that, I know that fostering a child is always an expensive business and it's a great shame that the authorities don't provide enough to cover even the basic care of a child but you can't put a price on the love they need and that is really the most important part of it.

    • sidther lm profile image

      sidther lm 6 years ago

      You could make that amount of money selling plasma- might be less exhausted too. I would be furious at that comment. I have heard it before by a woman who was about to sign up- when she saw how little she would "make" she backed out (luckily for those kids). Thank you for being a foster parent and for including the kids as if they were your family (as it should be) despite the additional expense.

    • Paul Ward profile image

      Paul 6 years ago from Liverpool, England

      One wonders how many desperately needed foster parents are deterred because they can't afford to subsidise care.

    • Charmcrazey profile image

      Wanda Fitzgerald 6 years ago from Central Florida

      Good for you! I admire anyone that will put forth the huge effort to show a child that he or she is important. Every kid deserves a decent start in life especially nowadays.