Sunday, January 3, 2010

Ask Dave Question #7

Doug & Juanita ask, “Financially, how does foster care work? Do you get a certain number of dollars for each child in your house? Is it from federal, state or local? How much? Does medical and dental get covered by you or is it paid separately in addition to what you receive for basic child care?”

First off, thanks for sending me the question! The answer is that foster parents get reimbursed a certain amount per child every month. My check comes from the county, and they refer to it as a “benefit”, even though it’s for care provided in the prior month. The exact amount depends upon the age of the child and sometimes the placement circumstances. For me the current average going price is about $500 a month per kid. I don’t know for sure what the source of the money is, but I suspect it’s a mix of state and local funding. I’ve also heard that they try to recoup these costs from the biological parents once they get back on their financial feet. I suspect that these recovery efforts are not very successful.

All foster kids are also provided with medical and dental insurance that covers everything except an occasional medication. Most of the time the insurance is Medi-Cal and Denti-Cal. The only exception is when the biological parents have their own insurance for the kids.

Just for kicks I looked back in my Quicken bookkeeping records about a year and roughed out the expenses for daycare, food, clothes and transportation. The average came to $660 per month per kid. For me, daycare accounts for just over half of this. (Click HERE to see a sample daycare bill.) Of course these categories of expenses don’t include things like vacations, sports and gifts.

What the heck, you can’t take it with you.