Foster parents provide a stable and nurturing environment for children who can’t live with their own parents because of abuse or neglect. While each state has its own specific requirements for becoming a foster parent, in general foster parents must complete extensive training to earn a license before opening their home to a child in need. In exchange for volunteering to provide this care, foster parents are reimbursed for their expenses.
Cost of Care
In general, foster parents receive a monthly stipend to defray the costs of caring for a child. The amount depends on the age of the child and the geographic area; foster parents of older children with greater food and clothing needs generally receive a larger stipend. On average, the monthly stipend ranges from $250 to more than $700 per month. In some states, foster parents who care for infants receive an additional stipend to pay for diapers, formula and other baby care items, and those who care for children with special needs are generally eligible for higher monthly payments. If you care for a child for less than a month, the stipend usually is prorated to the number of days that the child was actually in your care. In most cases, the reimbursement you receive for caring for foster children is not considered taxable income.
Most foster children receive a clothing allowance in addition to the monthly care stipend. The amount varies according to the age of the child. Depending on the state laws, foster parents may receive the stipend when the child first enters foster care, or the stipend is issued at the beginning of the school year. How the stipend can be used varies by state as well. In some cases, foster parents can purchase clothing at any retailer and submit receipts for reimbursement. In others, foster parents may only shop at designated retailers using vouchers.
In some states, foster parents are reimbursed for mileage when they attend training sessions and for transporting children to medical, counseling and court appointments. Foster parents may also be allowed to request mileage reimbursement if they transport foster children to a school outside of their district. Transportation expenses not reimbursed by the agency that placed the foster child are tax-deductible.
Health and Childcare
Most foster children qualify to receive health care under state Medicaid programs, so foster parents are not responsible for paying medical, dental and counseling bills. In most cases, if a foster parent works and requires daycare, the parent is responsible for paying the cost. There are some exceptions, though, and in some states childcare is subsidized. Some states also reimburse foster parents for the cost of a babysitter when the foster parents attend training and other required meetings.