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The financial guide to fostering

It’s no secret that kids are expensive. Heck, there’s a whole trendy acronym (DINK) dedicated to parents who live a kid-free life — and implied: more luxe — life. So, it makes sense that you might have questions about the potential costs of becoming a foster parent. Luckily, it probably costs way less than you might think. 

Ahead, an in-depth look at the costs associated with foster care costs, as well as the stipends and grants available to shoulder those costs. Here’s your financial guide to fostering.

No, it doesn’t cost anything to become a foster parent 

Becoming a foster parent is an in-depth process that involves an application, home study, background chat, and series of conversations with your friends, families, and employers. However, there is no fee to begin the application and approval process. 

That said, you may accrue a few costs ahead of taking in a foster child, including: training fees, physical exam fees, and house update feeds. 

In most states, future foster parents must attend a series of in-person or online training classes. Typically, these modules are free, but they may have a fee, depending on where you live. 

Some states require that foster parents undergo a physical health exam to ensure that the individual is free from communicable diseases and deemed physically able to take care of a child. 

Finally, future foster parents may need to make updates to their home to make it kid-friendly, according to the state. Foster parents are expected to pay this cost out of pocket. 

There are some financial requirements to foster

The process of getting licensed to be a foster parent may not cost anything. However, foster parent applicants do need to prove that they have sufficient family income to foster and that a foster child will not be a financial burden. 

There is no specific income requirement, exactly. But typically applicants will need to show proof of income via tax returns, pay stubs, and utility bills. 

Yes, foster parents receive a stipend — here’s what it covers

All foster parents receive a subsidy to cover expenses associated with taking on a foster child. The exact amount a foster family receives varies from state to state and even county to county. On average, families receive $300-to-$1,000 dollars per month for each foster child. 

The stipend is designed to cover food, transportation, clothing, and any additional utility costs you may accrue from having an additional person in the house. 

This stipend, however, may not cover certain things you and your foster child want them to be able to participate in, such as school trips, family vacations, summer camp, sports teams, or art classes. Here, foster parents can pay out of pocket, or apply for additional assistance from the state. 

Foster parents can get additional financial help, too

Financial support to foster parents does not start and stop at the monthly stipend. If foster parents need additional help paying for their foster child, they can apply for clothing subsidies, transportation allowances or reimbursements, and housing grants or vouchers.  

Additionally, foster parents receive indirect financial help via a few tax breaks. Foster parents can claim a foster child as a dependent on their tax return, for instance, which can lower federal tax obligations. Plus, the financial assistance that foster parents receive is not counted as income and therefore not taxable. 

The bottom line

Kids may have associated costs, but the state does its best to shoulder those costs so that foster parents don’t have to. So, if you’re interested in becoming a foster parent, don’t let your income or credit score stop you from learning more about foster care and applying. 

Reviewed by the Ovia Health Clinical Team

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