Will being a foster parent cost me any money?
Money is always an uncomfortable subject. It makes people squirmy and embarrassed and some people don’t want to talk about it.
Well, I hope I can just tackle this head-on and take away the discomfort.
The answer to this question today is yes and no. I know. Let’s compound the uncomfortableness with a complicated answer. 🙂
During the licensing process, it doesn’t cost any money to become a foster parent. There are many background checks and inspections that cost money, but thankfully, our licensing agency covers all of those costs.
We spent a lot of money setting up the nursery, because we had to start from scratch. When we started the licensing process, we began setting up the nursery, little pieces at a time, so the cost of the whole project was not in one big chunk. We painted the room, bought two cribs, bought a few decorations, bought a stroller, bought a convertible carseat, reused a giant shelf and a dresser, and bought toys and books. It sounds like a lot, but really, it wasn’t. We watched for sales for the big items and bought clothes from a consignment sale. And I’ve mentioned before that once we got our first placement, we had TONS of things given to us from our generous friends.
We could have avoided most of those costs, but we had very specific items that I wanted to pick out (like the gorgeous white cribs and a really great stroller that I found on sale) but there were lots of friends willing to pass on items that they had.
If you are bringing in foster children to share rooms with your kids, you would need a lot less to begin with.
Once you have a placement in your home, you’ll receive monthly stipends to cover additional costs, like groceries, diapers, etc.
Let me be clear. This is not a job. You are not getting a paycheck to babysit children. You are getting a stipend to help offset costs. We are careful to allocate this money to things that our Little Man needs, like food, toys, coloring books, crafts, books, school-related costs, etc. (P.S. The Scholastic book orders are just as awesome as a parent as they were as a kid!)
There is also a quarterly clothing allowance that helps cover clothing costs when the seasons change. Now, that would be nice if I could help myself when I see the cute toddler clothes at Target. But I just can’t. I just can’t help myself. 🙂
These parts of foster care will cost as much as you want it to. If you can hold back, budget well, and resist cute Target clothes for your kids, then foster care really won’t cost that much.
The really big savings come from two areas: childcare and healthcare. Foster children receive vouchers to cover the cost of daycare, and they receive Medicaid to cover the costs of healthcare. This is incredible. Daycare is expensive, y’all! Thankfully, this is one area where we are very fortunate. And we’ve taken a minor trip to urgent care (because kids only get sick on the weekends!), which would be expensive out of pocket, but is covered through Medicaid.
So you can see that foster care will cost as much as you want. If you’re careful about budgeting, you probably won’t notice much of a hit to your wallet. The “system” has some broken parts for sure, but it is set up to be very generous when it comes to financially providing for the children.