I wish I could be paid to be a foster mom.
Gasp! I said it out loud.
I want money to be a foster parent.
Clearly, I must hate all children and just want to take them into my home to make a buck.
No, actually. There’s nothing further from the truth.
I simply want to put a roof over our heads, food on the table, clothes on our backs, and care for children who need it the most.
Is that so wrong??
Culturally, I’m not sure why we feel it’s wrong to make ends meet while caring for someone else’s children. Why we assume that wanting to be a professional foster parent equals being a money grubbing, heartless fiend.
The other professionals working in foster care are paid – the social worker, therapist, school teacher, guardian ad litem (lawyer), family court judge, and police officer. It just seems natural that these experts are both paid to do their jobs AND that they care about the child in question.
After all, they have to eat, right?
Well, so do I and all my fellow foster parents.
But for some reason, we have to pay for the privilege of fostering.
Where I live, we apparently shell out $10,000+ for this privilege.***
No wonder there’s a shortage of foster parents.
No wonder foster parents mostly represent the upper middle class and don’t reflect the full diversity of our communities.
Not too many people can afford to pay ten grand to raise some stranger’s child.
Right now, there are empty bedrooms with empty beds in my house, when they could be filled with children who need a place to call home.
We had some unexpected expenses and are paying the bills off before we welcome more foster children. Because we can’t afford to do otherwise.
In the meantime, I know there are hurting children who are being sent to group homes and institutions due to a shortage of foster homes. There are no welcoming families waiting for them with open arms.
And it breaks my heart.
I’m here. And I’m willing.
But my bank account is holding us back.
If only I could be paid to be a foster parent, there’d be hurt children with a place to call home right now.
*** My math is derived from the following. The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) calculates how much a person must earn in order to meet basic daily expenses like food, housing and transportation (http://livingwage.mit.edu). How minimum are we talking here? Well, the average cost per meal equals $2 per person. So, pretty basic.
Where I live, two adults living together need to earn $44,000 per year to scrape by. If you add a child, you need another $17,000 per year to put a roof over your head, food on the table, and wheels to get you to work. However, foster care pays $6,492 per year for one child. This means the foster family has to pay $10,616 for the privilege of caring for someone else’s child. ($17,000 – $6,492 = $10,508)