Foster parents in Missouri provide a service critically needed by their communities, families in crisis and especially children who need a safe and loving home. Missouri foster parents receive maintenance reimbursements based on the number and ages of the foster children in their care. This payment is intended to cover the needs of the child, including everything from room and board to their incidental needs. The payments are monthly and pro-rated if the foster child wasn't living in the home the entire month. Foster parents who have been specially trained may receive additional reimbursement for fostering children with special needs.
The State of Missouri maintains an online chart of their current maintenance reimbursements. At the time of publication, the basic maintenance reimbursement rates are:
- $291 per month for children from birth to 5 years old
- $346 per month for children from 6 to 12 years old
- $384 per month for children 13 years old and older
Foster parents with infant foster children, defined as birth to 3 years old, receive an additional $50 infant allowance to offset the additional expenses associated with children of this age, such as diapers, formula and baby supplies.
Missouri foster parents receive an annual clothing allowance in addition to the maintenance allowance to help offset the cost of the foster children's clothing. At the time of this publication, the clothing allowance is:
- $250 for children from birth to 5 years old
- $290 for children from 6 to 12 years old
- $480 for children 13 years old and older
Youth with Elevated Needs
Some foster children have needs above and beyond typical childcare. These may include counseling or transportation to court, and sometimes a foster parent's testimony regarding progress. They're often related to significant behavioral problems. Foster parents who have been specially trained and who take in children with elevated needs may receive compensation of $754 per month for Level A children or $1504 per month for Level B children. This is instead of, not in addition to, the standard maintenance allowance. The Missouri Department of Social Services determines whether a child qualifies as a youth with elevated needs and at which level.
STARS Professional Parenting Payment
Foster parents who participate in the STARS program -- Specialized Training, Assessment, Resources, Support and Skills -- may be eligible for an additional $100 per month Professional Parenting Payment for each foster child. The STARS program provides training in foster parenting skills such as alternative discipline methods. The payment is designed to help foster parents offset costs associated with family support of the children's natural or permanent adoptive families, court hearings and training expenses. The payments are discontinued when a permanent placement is achieved for the children or if the foster parents fail to meet the state's eligibility requirements, including 30 hours of training.
Foster parenting offers many rewards, but coming out significantly ahead financially isn't one of them. Be sure to count the cost before becoming a foster parent, understanding that a sizable percentage of your reimbursement will be taken up by the actual expenses associated with caring for the children.