February 2nd, 2008
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This article out of Maine has stirred up a fury.

It appears that the Department of Health and Human Services is short of money, so they will be cutting funds to foster parents. Currently foster parents receive a maximum of $70 per day and that will be cut to $52 a day. I would be thrilled to be receiving either $52 a day or $70 a day. We fall far short of that.

As usual, when it comes to paying foster parents to care for kids people fall into one camp or the other. Either foster parents are extremely over paid or should be hailed as saints. I think we fall somewhere in between.

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One of the people who commented on the article is a foster parent. His description of foster parenting was wonderful. It should be featured in one of those “priceless” commercials.

Want a “job” in foster care???
Here you go:
4-6 month interview to include:
-40+ hr of classroom training
-25 page questionnaire w/ 20-25 questions/pg to be answered in paragraph form
-submit to a 40 hr interview and asked all the same questions in more detail(this includes details from birth to now and pretty explicit)
-read and sign and approve a written document of all these details (if this got into the wrong hands your identity is GONE)
-submit to a home inspection by the state fire marshal & make any/all improvements ie: replace windows, add hardwired smoke detectors, replace stair and porch railings, etc
Then if approved, maintain 24-36 credit hrs of training every 2 years

Can’t you just see that ad now? How many people do you think would sign up?

What if we did the “priceless” ad and it went something like this:

New smoke alarms in all rooms in your house: $150
Door alarms, new locks and security system: $500
Hours lost from work for home study: $750
Helping a child learn how to trust: PRICELESS

Would that generate more interest from potential foster parents?

Then there’s the other side of the coin with this comment:

If they choose not to then I think we know why they do it in the first place. If a foster parent truly loves what they’re doing to help an unfortunate child then they’ll make the $17 a day, $119 a week, $6188 a year work as best they can.

Foster parents are paid just on what it costs to physically raise the child. We are paid because essentially this is our job. Most people don’t want our job. I love my kids dearly, but every penny counts most days. Making the money work the best you can can be a big deal to many families.

Before I get on a rant and get totally off topic here, this will have an effect on adoptive parents as well. Adoption subsidies are usually paid based on the rate the foster parent was receiving while the child was in foster care. Yes, it can be negotiated, but the chances of you receiving more than a foster parent is pretty slim. If you are adopting a high needs child, you could be greatly impacted by these cuts.

Missouri tried to cut funds to adoptive parents last year, and now this cut from Maine. Is this going to become a trend in foster care and adoption? I certainly hope not. There is already a shortage of foster parents. We can’t afford to lose anymore.

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10 Responses to “Foster care stipends cut in Maine”

  1. xxsurroundedbyxy says:

    The people who claim that foster parents do it for the money are NOT, nor have ever been, foster parents. My question to them is always, “Why AREN’T you doing it? Do you not like children? Do you not care what happens to neglected and abused children in this country?”

    We actually foster for free. You see, the monthly stipend rarely covers the extra water, electricity, bedding, furniture, clothing, entertainment, needs, etc. So any payment for the love and care we give is non-existent. They don’t understand this though because they’ve never done it.

    We have a problem in this country because over 90% of Americans will read a story of an abandoned todder or abused preschooler and they will say, “That’s terrible! Those parents should be shot or have the same thing done to them.” However, if you turn to those same Americans and say, “You’re right! We need someone to care for this child. Can we bring them to you?” they suddenly stammer and stutter around giving excuses as to why THEY can’t afford it, or they work, or don’t have room, or don’t want the troubled child around their own children, etc.

    So if you don’t, who will? I know who will. The people like my husband and I who in Arkansas get paid $13/day (less than a sitter) to foster a child. Luckily, the state pays for their medical care or we couldn’t afford to foster most children. If we didn’t get $13/day, we could not afford the higher light and water bills, the higher restaurant bills, the higher grocery bills, the higher ticket total at the movies, Chuck E Cheese, or the extra clothes we buy while waiting for a clothing voucher, etc.

    We love these children….but yes, we would stop doing it if we had to without the money. What’s your excuse for not doing it?

  2. lmg1567 says:

    Great comment!!

    When we started fostering in Jan. 1995, MI daily base was just barely over $12/day (I believe it’s up to $14/day now, 13 years later).

    It’s true, every penny counts. I always used to think that if I didn’t have to work so hard making ends meet (such as running to every grocery store in a 30 mile radius to stock up on sale items while the kids were in school or dragging 6 preschoolers with me) I’d have more time to actually parent these kids.

    Money doesn’t solve your problems, but it sure frees you up to do more good for these kids.

    As for the people who always have something to say, but cannot DO, they should be ashamed of themselves. Every time they open their mouths, they show their ignorance.

  3. Chromesthesia says:

    If I had a job, a two bedroom apartment, a cleaner apartment too. It will be quite a while before I am ready to adopt and foster, but it’s something I’m considering for the future when I am ready.
    What bothers me is why are things like foster care the first to get cut? Don’t these people care about children?

  4. John says:

    I realize foster payments may not be the same as AAP, but this really is different. My youngest came from Maine, AAP is $14 per day, compared to $70 for foster parents? I had no idea I was such a good budgeter. The foster parents must be rolling in dough. Actually, I know what it costs for my son, they made no profit. Too bad foster kids can’t vote. John

  5. xxsurroundedbyxy says:

    If you read the article, it actually states that Maine stipends RANGE from $16.50-70 per day which means most are probably getting $16.50 per day. This means that is you foster a child in school and have them 8 hours out of a day you are earning $2/hour. How many people are willing to do that? Do daycare workers even work for that? NO! And many of these children are not easy children folks.

    Those who are actually getting the $70/day stipends are dealing with children with SEVERE problems-many of which are not paid for by Medicare.

    I have two children of my own and must pay for their childcare each time I go to court for my foster children or take them to a medical eval which could take all day etc. And when we have a staffing and my husband attends because he too cares about these kids and their rights, he loses two hours of pay which is $30 (or three days of stipend if you look at it like that)

    So, know the facts before commenting or judging. Those who have never fostered have no idea the toll it takes on one’s finances.

    This is why they make sure you are financially sound before accepting you as foster parents…they KNOW the monthly stipend will never be enough to cover all the expenses that go along with fostering.

    Kim

  6. shainamsu says:

    i have one child, and we foster infants. when people complain about money and say things like “we need more money b/c of higher restaurant bills, movie tickets, chuck e cheese, etc.” it really irks me. my husband and i foster on $14/a day and, even with formula, have about $200 of our stipend left over that goes into savings each month for emergency expenses for the child that the state will “reimburse” you for.

    we do it by several different avenues — extremely tight budgeting, we don’t eat out EVER unless we’ve saved and budgeted for it in advance, i learned how to sew just to save money — one yard of fabric that costs $0.99 in the scrap bin as opposed to a $15 sleeper that they’ll outgrow in three weeks, we started growing some of the food that we found was more expensive and that we use a lot (tomatoes, peppers that are almost three bucks for ONE), we have two cars, but only drive one unless it’s absolutely necessary to have two (i’m a stay-at-home mom), we belong to a church who was very generous with giving things if we need them, although we save EVERYTHING, i meal plan — breakfast lunch AND dinner — for every meal we eat until my husband gets paid again, buy produce from farmers, etc. the list goes on. we still tithe our 10% of each paycheck to the church and somehow it all fits. my husband does not make an exhorbitant amount of money. we live in st.louis, which is a fairly expensive place to live — don’t even get me STARTED on our mortgage payment!! — and he doesn’t get paid anywhere near what he’s worth.

    i’m not saying i’m super awesome and everyone should be like me, b/c everyone’s circumstances are different. i’m just saying that if you truly want to make a difference in the life of a child, what they’re going to remember is you having a picnic in the backyard, not going to chuck e cheese. they’ll remember all the fun things you made up to do at home b/c you didn’t have the gas to go out and spend money on a shopping trip.

    it’s been really, really hard and i struggle with making everything come together, but my husband and i do it together and it’s worth it. we live on as little as we possibly can and are always looking for ways to cut corners. i think it’s possible if we really look at what we’re truly spending our money on.

  7. shainamsu says:

    (let me clarify that i have one biological child and we foster infants in addition to that)

  8. xxsurroundedbyxy says:

    Let ME clarify….I wasn’t complaining about money. I was saying that there is no way to be in it for the money because there isn’t any left over to be in it for the money.

    It is my understanding that the formula is covered by WIC so I would guess with just infants that your grocery bill would not be any higher than it was before?? I don’t suppose it would make sense to take infants to Chuck E Cheese either.

    HOWEVER, DCFS does encourage foster parents to sign the kids up for sport teams and extracurricular activity and to reward them for good behaviors as well.

    From what I am reading (and it is kind of hard with no caps) what you are saying is that if you scrap going out to eat, buying gas for trips, and keep the kids at home all the time then YOU CAN BE IN THIS FOR THE MONEY. Is that right? You are putting $200 into savings each month for a reimbursable emergency that may never happen? Hmmm.

  9. xxsurroundedbyxy says:

    Shianamsu~
    Reread. No one said that we need MORE money to do those things. What was said is that we take the state’s money and actually SPEND it on the kids (not put it into our savings account) and that there is never enough left over to MAKE MONEY doing this. I am not asking for more money. I’m just saying that if the money is cut then we can’t do the very things that DCFS recommends for these kids–like signing them up for sports and other extracurricular activities, rewarding them for good behavior by letting them choose a place to eat, getting class pics and yearbooks, keeping a scrapbook, etc. All those things cost money.

    Of course, infants would not require any of these. Typically formula is covered by WIC so I can understand how your grocery bill has gone unchanged. Same for water since a 5-10 year old requires a much larger tub of water to bathe in each night than a 5-10 month old would.

    I would think you would spend most of your stipend on diapers…..or do you sew cloth ones to save more money for the savings acct?

  10. msustudent13 says:

    I would like to relate this to adoption of foster children in Michigan. Many are probably not aware that foster care payments are related to adoption support subsidy.

    According to statistics received from the State of Michigan, there are approximately 6,200 children in the foster care system whose parents’ rights have been terminated. Of those, about 4,300 children have a goal of adoption. On average, over 2,500 children are adopted through Department of Human Services’ offices and private adoption agencies each year. Many of these children have educational, physical and/or mental health/emotional issues due to the abuse and/or neglect that they have been subjected to. Often times the foster parents and/or relative caregivers are unaware of the subsequent effects that these issues have on the children they are caring for.

    The adoption support subsidy is intended to assist with the expenses of caring for and raising an adopted child. It is not intended to meet all of the costs of raising that child. Adoption support subsidy eligibility is based on specific criteria and the basis for this policy is taken from Michigan law. At the time of eligibility determination, the child must be a child with special needs. This means that the child must meet certain factors as determined by DHS adoption subsidy policy. Not all children in foster care qualify to receive adoption support subsidy, which is unreasonable and an injustice to children in foster care. All children should receive, at a minimum, adoption support subsidy.

    Based on the criteria, several children will meet the qualifications for adoption support subsidy; however there are also many children that will not. This simply should not be. Factors one and two are usually not disputable. In order for an adoption to occur, the child is under 18 and parental rights have been terminated. A child only has to meet one of the eight factors or conditions, but there are children that slip through the cracks and are found ineligible to qualify for adoption support subsidy.

    Perhaps the largest debate about who should receive adoption support subsidy and who should not is the fact that no one knows what the future holds. No one knows what the long-term affects for a child under the age of three that does not qualify for adoption support subsidy because of the age factor. Some children may suffer long-term affects such as behavioral issues or learning disabilities that do not become evident until they are in the elementary school years. Other children learn about the past of their biological parents and then begin to have emotional problems because they cannot cope with the fact that their biological parents used drugs or abused other siblings. Why should the adoptive parents of these children be deemed ineligible to receive adoption support subsidy simply because they adopted a child before he/she was three years old?

    While the government must have guidelines and policies in place when it comes to funding issues, a child’s well-being should not have a dollar amount attached. Children in foster care are not the average, run-of-the-mill children. They have been removed from their parents for abuse and/or neglect. They did not ask to come into a world and be exposed to such trauma, but they were anyhow. They deserve loving, stable homes and those that adopt such foster children should be eligible to receive adoption support subsidy despite criteria factors. If the State of Michigan is not willing to allow all children to be eligible to receive adoption support subsidy, perhaps they could revise their criteria so children do not slip through the system without the proper long-term support.

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