It's important to understand that foster parents should not consider the foster care subsidy as a salary. To understand this further we must first, define the word salary. According to Susan M. Heathfield, Guide to Human Resources, "Salary is a fixed amount of money or compensation paid to an employee by an employer in return for work performed." Foster parents are not employees of the foster care agency that license their home, or employees of the state.
Foster Care Subsidy Is Best Not to Be Considered an Income or Salary for the Foster Parent
As a foster parent, the foster care system will provide a foster care subsidy, a monthly amount of money, for each foster child within the home. All too often individuals become foster parents thinking that foster care will become a job or will provide an income for their family. This is not the case. A foster care subsidy is to care for the foster child’s needs. It is not to be thought of as an income for the fostering family. It is often barely enough to cover the monthly needs of the foster child.
Do not note the foster care subsidy on loan applications as income. Remember, the foster care agency is not the foster parent's employer. As foster parents we never know when a child will move from our home or when a new foster child will be placed in our home. It may be devastating financially for a foster family to start depending on the foster care subsidy as income and then for that child to move into a new home. This type of situation would also be equally as devastating for the foster child, as the child's needs may not be being met if the family is too worried about their own needs. Foster care subsidy is money that usually can’t be counted on, as we don’t know how long foster children will remain in our homes.
Check with Professional Regarding Taxes and Foster Care Subsidy
The foster care subsidy is usually not taxable income, but please check with a tax preparer because whether or not foster care subsidy is taxable may depend on the amount that is received monthly or the amount of time a foster child has been in the foster parent's home. Again, please check with your tax accountant and your agency worker before proceeding.
Why Not Considering Foster Care Subsidy as Income Is Important
During the application process to become a foster parent, foster families are asked to provide proof of income. It is important for foster agencies to see that prospective foster parents are able to provide for their own families without the foster care subsidy. This prevents prospective foster parents from taking in foster children for the wrong reasons or motivations. Imagine the kind of care a foster child would receive if placed in a home that is only interested in the monthly subsidy check and not the child’s needs and well-being.
Remember: A Foster Care Subsidy is NOT
- Supplemental income.
- A way to pay for vacations.
- A means to buying a second or third car.
- A way to pay off your home.
- A way to pay for your child’s name brand clothing.
- A way for your child to go to expensive after school clubs and programs.
Children in foster care have already experienced abuse and neglect situations. They have already missed out on numerous opportunities in life. Please don't become a foster parent with the goal of considering foster parenting as a job and the foster care subsidy as salary. The children deserve every penny of that money to be spent on their direct care.
To learn more about the foster care subsidy and its proper use, please see, What Is a Foster Care Subsidy?