That is a question someone asked me just last week. There’s this perception of professional foster parents — people who accept children into their home just for the paycheck. And, now that I’ve been licensed foster parent for over a year, I can tell you without a doubt, it has to be a myth.
Foster parenting is hard. So, so hard. Even beyond the normal parenting duties, there’s the challenge of attachment, red tape of the system, and hours upon hours of social worker visits, therapies, and training. Foster parent training alone is 15-20 hours per year plus maintaining first aid & CPR certifications.
Don’t forget to add in time to find a babysitter and travel time in between. Our nearest training center is 30 minutes from here. That’s additional time, and money for gas, for each class or support meeting we attend. Plus, I spend a lot of time on the phone these days, trying to find the right decision maker.
You want to meet with the school to go over a child’s IEP? You’ll need to track down the social worker, case manager, and CASA volunteer first. Good luck finding a date where everyone can attend. It’s typically an hour of phone calls or emails just to set a meeting time.
We have 2-3 meetings per week between the various people involved in our current case. Double that if you have multiple children with different case workers. I’ve also spoken to other foster parents who spend hours every week at various medical appointments and therapies.
The point is, there is a lot of time and effort involved in foster parenting. It’s not really the sort of thing you do for the money. Foster care per diems can range from $12-$60, depending on the level of care required for the child. On the higher end of the pay scale, you’re dealing with medically fragile children who require constant care.
On the lower end of the scale, a foster parent may receive around $500-600 per month for the care of the child. That comes with a minimum of 5 hours per week for visits, training, and miscellaneous phone calls. Plus, the actual time involved in parenting the child and expenses necessary for daily life. Foster parents are responsible for food, clothing, and pretty much anything you can imagine a child needing.
You’re talking about maybe $1 or $2 per hour if you were to subtract expenses and break it down. I just cannot imagine that level of “income” is worth all of the work and emotions involved in fostering children. So, no. Foster parents aren’t in it for the money at all. Foster parenting is time intensive, exhausting, and emotionally draining. But totally worth it.
Just not for any paycheck you can take to the bank.