What Is a Foster Care Subsidy?

How Should a Foster Care Reimbursement or Foster Care Subsidy Be Used?

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A subsidy, by definition, is a financial grant provided by the government. Foster care subsidy is a predetermined amount of money sent by the government to the foster parents on a monthly basis for the care of the foster children that have been placed in the foster home.

Where Does the Money Come From?

Within the United States, the money comes from each individual state's budget that has been set aside for the use of foster care. County and federal monies may also make up the foster care budget.

How Is the Foster Care Subsidy Amount Determined?

Each state or agency has a predetermined subsidy amount based on the state's budget. A foster family may receive a larger subsidy depending on the needs of the child. The subsidy is usually determined based on the child's:

  • age
  • medical needs
  • behaviors

Again, each state and agency is different.

What Is the Proper Use of the Foster Care Subsidy?

  • clothing for the foster children
  • food (foster children can also be a part of the free lunch program at your local school)
  • transportation
  • recreation
  • Some school fees such as for sports, art classes, lab fees, agenda books, or other extracurricular activities
  • hygiene/personal care products
  • anything the child stands in need of

Remember, if an item was bought specifically for a foster child, then that item becomes the property of the child and should leave with the child when she moves. When purchasing larger items for the child's bedroom, make sure the child understands whether the item is her property or that of the foster home. This will alleviate any misunderstandings or problems when the child is ready to move home or to another foster home or adoptive placement.

Do Agencies Track the Usage of the Foster Care Subsidy?

Some agencies require that foster parents track the use of the foster care subsidy. Other agencies require that a dollar amount goes directly to the personal care of the child, such as diapers, clothing, or recreation. Receipts or a budget may be a monthly requirement for some agencies in order to prove that the foster children are being taken care of properly with the subsidy.

Do Some People Misuse the Foster Care Subsidy?

Yes, unfortunately, some families take advantage of the foster care reimbursement. Before becoming a foster parent you must prove that you are financially fit and can take care of your family's needs without the foster care subsidy. If you are unable to care for your own family without the aid of the subsidy, you can not become a licensed foster parent. However, even those who can prove that they do not need the monthly subsidy, go ahead and become foster parents and misuse the funds for their own personal gain. Agencies do their best to keep this from happening.

Foster Care Subsidy Is NOT:

  • A great way to supplement your income.
  • A home business.
  • A way to pay off your mortgage.
  • A way to buy a jet ski or motorcycle.
  • A way to send your kids to college.
  • A way for your kids to get name branded clothing such as Gap, Abercrombie, or Hollister (fill in your child's favorite brand here).

Foster Care is a wonderful experience and can add much to your life, it shouldn't, however, add to your pocketbook.