How does the government shutdown affect foster kids? Three important words —Women, Infant and Children. Also known as WIC (pronounced like ‘wick’), it’s one of the first programs to come to a halt. Foster babies and young children are eligible for WIC and most are dependent on the food and formula provided by the program. Foster parents from around the country have already started emailing and sending me messages via Twitter asking “What’s going to happen to my foster kids’ WIC?”
Formula is expensive and breast-feeding foster children is not an option. I didn’t use WIC when I fostered my first two infants, but I soon realized that to be sustainable as a foster parent I needed to use all the resources available. I enrolled my 3rd foster child in WIC, which freed-up a significant portion of her stipend to use for books, classes, and transportation to and from her appointments.
I now have 2 foster babies and we go through a can of WIC provided Enfamil daily. The cans, Enfamil 12.5 ounce (354 grams) of powder, cost approximately $18.00 a piece at my local grocery stores. At 8.7 grams per scoop, and 4 scoops per 8 ounce bottle, and approximately 4 bottles per day (bear with me) … 1 can makes approximately 10 bottles. That’s $9.00 a day per baby, or $279 a month which, times two babies equals $558 in formula. Additionally, foster parents provide formula during court ordered family visits and that’s not a time to be stingy. Twice a week an extra 2-3 fresh bottles are made during visits. At $2-$3 a bottle it can quickly add up to an extra $50 of formula per foster child. In reality, I already spend $100 a month on formula in addition to the WIC formula alloted.
Here in New York State, the foster parent stipend hovers around $17.00 a day per typically developed child. If it becomes necessary for me to use the stipend money for formula, that leaves approximately $8.00 a day for the other necessities. That doesn’t sound too bad until I realize it’s only $248 a month. In New York City.
Add to this that most foster parents, in New York City at least, live below the poverty line and are already receiving government benefits (the newer, more polite term for ‘welfare’). Subsequently, most foster families aren’t, contrary-to-popular-belief, rolling around in stacks of cash.
So, Congressmen and Congresswomen, could you swing by the store on your way home and pick-up a couple thousand cans of Enfamil, please? Your most vulnerable constituents still need to be fed.
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